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The Joy of… Frank Feedback

“You worry too much”, my friend and business partner, Susan told me one day when I fretted that our air conditioner had just blown a fuse in our new office space. And she was right. I immediately worried that we didn’t have enough electrical power to support our new collaborative workspace, the wifi wouldn’t be adequate, and on and on.

The fact that I can worry too much is not news to me. In my work as a strategy and management consultant, mapping out possible scenarios and anticipating potential issues so they can be addressed before they become full-blown problems is a strength that serves my clients well. But when I blow a gasket over a blown fuse, that tendency doesn’t serve me so well.

Susan’s calling me out on my over-reaction was the gift of a true friend. She didn’t do it to criticize me. She assured me we could address the issues we faced together. She simply said, “Let’s make a list of everything we have to take care of, decide which things are most important, and just tackle them one at a time.” It was such a comfort and joy to have the support of a capable colleague.

The Joy of Frank FeedbackHas anyone told you that you worry too much or – fill in the blank – too much and left it at that? When the statement comes alone, it can feel like an unhelpful putdown. But when it comes with an action plan like Susan provided me, it was a gift. Not only did she point out that my reaction wasn’t that helpful, she appealed to my more constructive self by showing me how we would deal with our challenges together. It was on point, calming and reassuring.

Frank feedback can be hard to take if it is delivered as a disparagement and left at that. But done constructively, the same criticism can be a priceless gift that leads to self-examination and personal growth. Remember that as you manage yourself and others. Thanks to Susan, next time the air conditioner blows a fuse, I won’t blow up myself.