Learning to not React to Feedback on our Work – the Power of Observing, not Absorbing

Have you ever found yourself feeling frustrated, criticised and possibly insulted or offended when receiving feedback on your work from a colleague or supervisor that is not what you expected – particularly feedback that is, or seems to be, somewhat critical?

Have you noticed that when receiving this type of feedback in written form, such as via email, your reaction can be immediate and even stronger than if sitting down with the person? It’s like there is no filter on your reaction and you can fume away in silence, or go into a spin about your abilities, often letting the emotions build although they may never be expressed.

I recently had an opportunity to view email communication very differently when I inadvertently had the same document reviewed by a colleague on separate days, but received vastly different feedback – via email. What unfolded has shown me that we are constantly offered the opportunity to deepen our understanding of ourselves and others through observing and not absorbing. I have also come to realise that, perhaps contrary to the beliefs subscribed to in many workplaces, I do have a choice as to whether I respond or whether I react to such feedback.

At the time, both my colleague and I were faced with multiple deadlines, including the submission date for the document I was working on. In the first email I received, the comments were less than favourable, highlighting a few areas of improvement and an issue to be resolved before submission. With less than 2 days to turn it around I could feel a sense of panic rising in me, but I took a deep, gentle breath and replied to the email that I was feeling somewhat confused about the comments as I felt I had been following direction from another colleague also working on the project.

The next day I received another email with further comments on the document. My colleague expressed that while it still needed work, it could be submitted and revised later. He also thought that perhaps he had been looking at a previous version of the document when he reviewed it the day before. I checked and it was the same version reviewed twice, but clearly at different times, in fact on different days. As I sat with this I could feel how in one instance he had likely been very stressed, tired and frazzled and on the next occasion not so much, as there was a different feel to the email and his response.

We can all relate to having ‘bad’ days, but are we aware of how this affects everything we do and the people we interact with? What I could feel clearly through this experience is that we take every moment of the day to our next activity be it reviewing a document, sending an email, reading an email, having a meeting, preparing food, exercising and so on. It follows then that if we are feeling frustrated, tired, stressed or equally, joyful, gentle, rested, calm, then this ‘quality’ is actually present in whatever activity we are doing. If we then accept “if everything is energy, therefore, everything is BECAUSE of energy” (1) as presented by Serge Benhayon, then does it not make sense that the ‘quality’ we are in, or our emotions, are affecting others, be they felt or not?

I could have chosen to react to the content of the first email and I know from past experiences what that would have looked like: I would have gotten upset, felt that I was not good enough at this stuff, and felt I would never get the document submitted on time and possibly even given up. So what was different this time?

On this occasion I took a moment to feel and observe the quality or emotion behind the email, as well as my own quality at the time. I also acknowledged that I felt hurt by the comments and the way they were delivered and I took a moment to feel the hurt. On reflection, I realise that in letting myself feel the hurt, my body remained open, gentle and calm and then it was simple to respond, not react. Often we want to avoid feeling any hurt and we react by hardening ourselves as a form of protection: we get frustrated, we lash out, we might withdraw. In this state we are more likely to react to everything, as everything is perceived as a threat, that is, something that might hurt us. Add to this the workplace environment, which is not particularly supportive of employees showing or expressing their feelings and thus increasing the likelihood that we are in protection and reaction.

This experience has provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the importance of not reacting, of not absorbing or taking on, whatever emotions or energy come with any form of communication, including via emails. To get caught up in reaction is to put our bodies into a stress reaction, which does not support us, those around us, or our work. I have also been reminded of my responsibility with regards to my own energetic quality in every moment, to ensure that I can observe and not absorb and therefore, respond not react. It is up to me to ensure that if I’ve had a ‘bad’ moment that it is not taken to my next activity or it will snowball into a ‘bad’ day.

I also find myself considering how much it could support us all in our workplaces if we were all to explore the wisdom of those few simple words, “Observe and not absorb” (2) and be more open to our own and others’ feelings at work.

By Anonymous


  1. Serge Benhayon, Esoteric Teachings & Revelations, p 220, UniMed Publishing, 2011.
  2. Unimed Living. (2017). The Universal Medicine New Year’s Message for 2011 | Unimed Living. [online] Available at: http://www.unimedliving.com/serge-benhayon/the-seer/readings-humanity/the-universal-medicine-new-year-message-for-2011.html [Accessed 25 Sep. 2017].

Related Reading:
Responsibility in the Workplace
To Observe and Not Absorb
Understanding – is this the Key to Sharing our Greatest Form of Love?

552 thoughts on “Learning to not React to Feedback on our Work – the Power of Observing, not Absorbing

  1. The more I allow myself to observe and listen to what another is saying the less I find myself reacting. I can then either take on board what they have said and learn from it or I can see it as effectively trying to bring me down. I have learnt that it is going to really be one or the other. Either it will be truly supportive or it will have a poisionous undertone to it even though it may be sounding helpful and the person cares it all depends with what energy it is coming with. So then the more I read the energy the clearer things become and it is no longer personal rather a choice of energy. It makes things much simpler and also gives me a greater opportunity to learn especially when the person is presenting truth to me but I may not want to hear it!

  2. Feedback often comes with a charge and it is very difficult not to react to negative statements, however true, delivered with frustration, rage, anger or blame. We can learn enormously when we keep our time in reaction to a minimum and to understand the underlying truth to the feedback, whatever that is. With some practice this becomes enormously empowering.

  3. I love being given the opportunity to understand people and situations more, so it is important for me to stay observing, ‘that we are constantly offered the opportunity to deepen our understanding of ourselves and others through observing and not absorbing.’

  4. Any form of reaction is extremely harming not only to ourselves but also to everyone. The only way to stop reacting is to bring understanding.

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