Feeling resentful about something? Think about this.
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 […]
September 2, 2022
4.3 min read
The Problem with Feedback
The other day I got my student feedback from a course I teach each semester on Managing without Authority for a local university. I opened it up, excited to see what the students said, and my eyes were drawn to the one respondent that disagreed the course was valuable, and also disagreed I was knowledgeable. In the free form feedback it said: “Too much reliance on students and not the teacher. We spent more time talking in groups than being provided real insight on managing without authority. If we asked a question, it was not answered and instead thrown on the class to answer.” My heart sank. And the mind monkey took off. I’d been outed. Because when I look deep at my own inner saboteurs, the one that screams the most is “You don’t know enough.” We Fixate on the Negative Feedback So that comment really stung. I’ve often noticed this tendency in life, where we humble human beings fall into negative confirmation bias. We look for the things that confirm our worst fears. Our worst fears are then confirmed, and we fixate on it. Never mind the 18 other people that strongly agreed that the course was valuable. Never mind the copious comments on how engaging the course was, how much they liked the case studies, my humor, the breakout groups. Never mind that these 18 thought I was knowledgeable. In that moment none of it mattered. This one individual in the six years I’d been teaching for this institution had finally seen the truth of me. The game was up. Unfortunately, I had opened this email in the middle of an important 3 day meeting I was participating in. And then I cursed myself for opening something that could be potentially triggering at a moment I needed to concentrate most. It took some effort, but I managed to steer myself back into the meeting and reground myself. Yay for mindfulness techniques! I spent a few moments practicing some deep breathing, focusing with my eyes on a few objects in my office that bring me joy and are beautiful to look at. Slowly but surely the dissonance faded away and I regained my composure. When will we be enough? But it got me thinking…it’s interesting this tendency we have to need to prove ourselves. We obsess about the big presentation that’s coming up, how we must be prepared and have the answer to every potential question under the sun that might be asked. We stress about the quality of our work. Is it good enough? Will people think that I’m credible and I know what I’m talking about? We stress about the quarterly performance review; will I be rated above average or exceptional? And what does it mean if I’m not? But here’s the bottom line – When do we get to enjoy things? When we know enough? Because that’s a fool’s game. Enough is never enough because there’s always something new to prove, someone new to impress, […]
July 20, 2022
3.7 min read