Giving feedback is never an easy task.  I’ve recently mused about this topic quite a bit, and written a blog recently on the art of straight talk, which highlighted the three elements that are critical to doing this well.

And then there’s real life.  It’s one thing when it’s a colleague.  It’s another thing when that colleague is also a very close friend.  My friend Jenny and I have known each other for years, and we’ve also collaborated on a number of projects.  She’s one of my favorite people, she’s funny, insightful, hardworking, caring and full of entrepreneurial spirit.  She’s commonly the ideas person in our dynamic duo, and I work behind the scenes to help execute her ideas.

Lately I’ve been experiencing some frustration relative to what I’m calling the whiplash effect.  She has a grand idea, I rush behind the scenes to make it happen, and then it gets shelved.

we create resentment when we don’t speak up

And so, a couple of glasses of sparkling rose into a business lunch we were having the other day, out it came.  I shared with her my frustration, and the grief this had been causing me.  It wasn’t a perfect delivery as far as feedback is concerned.  I didn’t follow each of the straight talk steps in perfect unison, but then again perfect is the enemy of good.  I was still scared, even though she’s my friend.  I was scared especially because she’s my friend and this relationship really matters to me.

I fully expected her to listen, and she did.  I fully expected her to acknowledge the frustration and the mixed messages she’d been sending, and she did.

What surprised me was the text she sent me later on.  “I’m going to do better.”  And she expressed sincere concern for hurting my feelings and sending mixed messages.

I had to ask myself why I was so surprised.  And then I had a realization.  I’m not used to people owning things.  I’m not used to reciprocity in relationships.  And this isn’t because I think other people are inherently selfish, or I was picking horrible people to surround myself with (although in some instances I could have done a better job on that front).  In the past I often took the path of please and appease rather than assert myself and share my concerns.  I took that path because I was desperate for people to like me, to have a ton of friends in my network.  Unconsciously, this was a hidden measure of success.  Interestingly it didn’t matter whether I liked them.

I got used to giving more than my fair share.  I got used to not sharing my voice or truth on things, then feeling resentful, and rather than expressing it, shoving it down and shaming myself instead.  Then I’d have to find ways to numb the pain.  Or it would spill out in other passive aggressive ways and ultimately pollute the relationship.

when we know our worth, we can speak our truth

And now here’s the point of this blog.  Your sense of self-worth matters.  Your sense of self-worth is everything.  To the extent you have a skewed perception of it, it colors every aspect of your life.  How you show up at work, how you show up with your friends, what kind of friends you pick, what you allow yourself to tolerate.

I shared that feedback with Jenny because on some level I finally realized that I mattered.  That my voice mattered.  And she responded in the way that she did because she also values our relationship and values me.

When we hold feedback back from the people we really care about, we rob them of the opportunity to be better.  To do better.  And we rob ourselves of the opportunity to share our voice and deepen the relationship.  It’s honesty that creates connection.  And if we have the courage to go there, we will figure out who our real friends are.

Coaching questions for thought

  • What conversations are you avoiding right now?
  • In those relationships where you are holding back, how might resentment be silently poisoning the well?
  • How could sharing your truth provide an opportunity for learning? How might the relationship grow as a result?


Shelley Pernot is a leadership and career coach who is passionate about helping her clients discover their strengths and talents and find a career that utilizes them.  Reach out to me here for a free consultation to learn more about the coaching process and how it may benefit you!

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