Monday, March 21, 2016

Deflecting Feedback

Our healing and help comes from others speaking truth into our lives, 
but the road blocks we use are many

We say we like feedback, but when it comes right down to it, we struggle with it.  We have all kinds of rules about who can give us feedback, when, how often, what topics, don't use specific words, etc.  We also seem to have techniques for deflecting feedback.  Here are some examples of how I might deflect your feedback:

It's Their Fault
Classic.  Blame it on others.  I'm not interested in the log or speck in my own eye.  The guilt and discussion gets shifted to others.  I'm also sending the message that you're wrong and you're focused on the wrong issues.

How do you know that?
In this case, you'll provide feedback to me and I'll challenge how you know some of the details.  Deflection.  It's no longer about the feedback, it's about you.  How do you know?  Are you talking about me to others?  Suddenly I'm off the hook and you have to justify yourself.  It's even worse: there's an accusation hidden there.  Have you been sneaking around?  You have to explain yourself when I'm the person in need.

Dominate the discussion
You come to me to address a situation, but I then launch into a long explanation.  Could be on anything.  Could be how it's not my fault, how circumstances have created the situation, or could be my life's history which sounds like it might have something to do with the discussion.  Prov 10:19 "Where there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise."

Get there first
What's better than dominating a discussion?  Getting there first, then dominate the discussion.  I get to you before you get to me, all in the name of 'getting the story right'.  Prov 18:17 "The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him."

Cry A Lot
You give me the hard feedback and I simply break down.  I may cry because what you're telling me really hurts.  I may feel shame and hurt and I just got to cry it out.  Crying may even be a sign of repentance.  It can be a sign of deflection.  I mean, who likes watching someone cry?  Suddenly, you feel like you have to go into comfort mode.  Extensive crying could also be a sign of past trauma.

I'm not stupid
'Stupid' is an unfortunate word when helping someone.  'Stupid' suggests that someone is inherently, intellectually inferior.  Telling someone they're stupid isn't helpful.  But if I say I'm not stupid, then I'm flipping things around on you.  How dare you say that about me.  It also suggests that there's nothing I have to do.  How about this deflection, 'I'm not crazy'.  Again, the use of the word crazy isn't helpful.  What happens if I do have a mental illness?  You would think that me getting help would be really important, right?  But If I say 'I'm not crazy' then I distance myself from any help I might need AND I turn the discussion back on you, distancing myself even further.

There are consequences to these deflections, these are not merely harmless comments or actions:

You can see how in a group of people, like a church congregation, this is a problem  This is concerning for a couple reasons.  First, there is deliberate management of the situation on my part.  I am trying to manage how people are involved and what they believe, regardless of what the actual situation is.  It may suggestion that I'm deliberately trying to cover my sin or at best avoid it.  Secondly, I'm spreading strife.  I may be doing all this to justifying myself, but there's the rub: I sin, I get counsel, I deflect, I blame others, then I go around telling others.  It's like pouring gas on a fire.

Other people carry the consequences of this, not me.  So my family, my kids, my friends, and my church have to struggle with the consequences of my sin.  The consequences can impact kid's in a family for generations.

These deflections can also be a sign that you're dealing with the classic proverbs fool.  Proverbs says that the wise will listen, thank you, and take action.  The fool is someone who will blame others and make excuses, but not action.  Fools aren't helped with more words, they're helped with consequences.

Let's say I'm a Christian saying all these things.  I am basically hiding my sin.  I may talk about how much I trust God, how much faith I have in Him, and how I'm trusting in His grace, but God isn't cool with sin.  Yes He loves me and yes I do have that grace, but God is a holy God.  When we confess our sin, God is honored by that and we are on the road to healing.  When we listen to counsel, yes it hurts, but we also can get help.

A lot of the problem here is how we take feedback.  While this is another discussion, feedback isn't an argument we need to win.  We just need to hear it, thank the person for it, pray about it, and drive on.  These deflections are serious but aren't the unforgivable sin.  We've all done it.  We can repent of it.  We can be helped by those people that God has put in our lives.

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