21 Jun 2024

Embracing Feedback: A Mindful Approach

Receiving feedback can be a challenging experience for some, often triggering defensive reactions due to the inherent stress it causes. Our brains perceive constructive criticism as a threat, activating the same survival mechanisms as physical danger. But understanding the above the line model, we can learn to respond mindfully to feedback.


The above the line model recognises that our perceptions are filtered through layers of past experiences, values, and biases. We cannot process all incoming information, so our brains fill in the gaps with interpretations that may distort the intended message. This model encourages us to acknowledge these filters and strive for a more objective mindset.
While it’s natural to occasionally slip below the line and react defensively, the goal is to avoid dwelling in that state. By recognising our thoughts and behaviours when we’re below the line, we can consciously shift back above the line and respond constructively.


Introducing the above the line concept to your team can cultivate a more receptive environment for feedback, encourage open discussions about what below the line behaviour might look like, and how to rebalance oneself. Normalise acknowledging moments of defensiveness with phrases like, “I’m feeling below the line, I just need a moment.”


By embracing a mindful approach to feedback, we can transform it from a source of stress into an opportunity for growth and development. When we learn to respond from an above the line mindset, we open ourselves to valuable insights and foster a culture of continuous improvement.


Jo Stuart │ Trainer