Feedback is an amazing thing. Recently I joined a professional networking group and pretty quickly made my way into the group. I thought I was being assertive, clear and making a positive impression. Turns out some thought I was abrasive. Wow, I was surprised. But I was lucky too. A wonderful and thoughtful person (and brand new acquaintance) took the time to call me and let me know. Here is how this transpired.
- I introduced myself to him at our 3rd meeting and made a good connection
- He called me and asked if I was interested in some feedback
- He took the time to let me know that he was impressed with my confident presentation but that in prior meetings people thought I was being abrasive.
- I was really taken aback but keenly interested in how I was being perceived compared to how I thought I was coming across
- I controlled my first instinct which was to defend myself
- I took responsibility for asking the logical follow-up questions. NO, not ‘How was I being abrasive?’ but rather HOW was I behaving when confident and assertive? I was asking him to MOVE ME IN THE DIRECTION I wanted to go-to be more collegial.
Frankly I don’t care (much) about how I was behaving; I care about how I can behave because I don’t want to be perceived as abrasive. Actually I don’t want to be abrasive. And that’s the point.
Feedback gives us the opportunity to be curious and gain more information about what’s working and what’s not. Most people are shocked by negative feedback and become defensive (and I understand that – negative feedback hurts). But, rather than focus on what’s not working we can gain valuable information that wil help us be better communicators and colleagues.
Now I will review Marshall Goldsmith’s ‘What Got You Here Won’t get You There’ model of making amends. That should be interesting.