Last week, AoaM community member Ethan Fedida corrected my misuse of possessives on the “high’s and low’s” post’s title.
He was correct – It should have read highs and lows. After I changed it and thanked him, he said “Wasn’t gonna say anything, but figured you’d want to know over ignorance.”
He’s right. I did want to know, but it may not have been easy for him to tell me.
It can be difficult to say the honest thing.
We’re scared of hurting another’s feelings. We don’t want to make somebody feel dumb. The more we respect and admire an individual, the more difficult it can be to be honest with him or her and call them up to their greatness.
Society trains us to keep these feelings inside, which is actually selfish.
We want to follow Dale’s Carnegie’s golden rule to never criticize.
Luckily, the dictionary has us covered – The definition of the word “criticize” reads “indicate the faults of (someone or something) in a disapproving way.”
When you’re telling somebody how you really feel, the mistake can be doing so in a judgmental way – It’s not what you say. It’s how you say it.
If you are sharing your experience of the person’s activity as opposed to your judgement of them, feedback is typically more well received.
Here’s an example:
A few months ago, I noticed a brilliant friend of mine was so full of creative ideas he couldn’t help but talk a million miles a minute to share them. In the process, he would say the word “like” multiple times each sentence. I LOVED his energy, but found it difficult to concentrate while he spoke and wondered if others felt the same way.
So what did I do? I kept it inside.
What happened? It festered.
Every time I spoke to him, I wanted to say something, but I was so concerned with how “I” would look if I said something – Would he hate me? Who am I to tell him how to speak? Would it make our friendship awkward?
I had to shift the focus from being about me to being about him.
Finally, the other day, I decided to tell him. Here’s the order in which the conversation went, which may be helpful for you in delivering feedback to people you care about.
1) I asked for permission.
I told him I had something awkward and difficult I’d been meaning to share and asked if he was open for feedback before continuing…
2) I let him know the reason I was sharing
I care about him – his ideas are too important and the deserved the most clear presentation possible.
3) As I finally gave him the feedback, I shared my experience.
It went like this, “As you share your ideas, my experience has been you say the word ‘like’ several times, which can be distracting and not representative of the highly intelligent individual and business leader I know you to be”
This individual was more than receptive – he was grateful for my willingness to share my thoughts honestly. He mentioned he had received similar feedback at work and was working hard during presentations to slow down as he speaks.
Letting him know how I felt was another reminder for him to continue to work on it.
The result of our conversation was he got the feedback he needed. I did not feel embarrassed, ashamed, or in violation of a “How to Win Friends” principle. In fact, I felt generous for sharing my experience and didn’t have to live with the feelings inside. We both feel closer as a result and know we can maintain an honest heartfelt relationship for years to come.
Sharing is caring. Tell somebody how you really feel today!