SoulWork: Give the gift of feedback!

Feedback is one of those words that is often overused, yet seldom practiced.  For many of us, we immediately associate feedback with someone telling us that we’ve done something wrong.  That’s probably because in the rare instances that someone actually makes the effort to give us feedback, it’s often negative or at least something that we perceive as negative.  Unfortunately, what most of us fail to realize is that feedback is always positive if it is delivered with sensitivity and authenticity.

As leaders, feedback is probably one of the most important things that we can do for the people we work with.  I know that for me personally, feedback is an invaluable tool to help me recognize behaviors that hide in my ‘blind spots’.  Some of those behaviors are good things and recognizing them helps me find ways to share them more consciously.  On the other hand, some of them can detract from my contributions and are incredible opportunities for me to grow.  Either way, I look at feedback as a way to see part of myself in a new way.

We all have talents that we bring to the world and to our work.  Finding those and the best way to share them is a lifelong journey and the feedback we receive along the way can help find those course corrections that keep us on our path.  If the feedback you’re receiving isn’t something you want or expect to hear, it probably won’t feel good in that moment.  I’ve found that the key for me to receive feedback is to first listen and then allow any initial reaction to subside.  When I’m in a peaceful place, I’m far more likely to make good choices about what I believe to be true.  It’s important to remember, you always have power to choose how you feel and how you react.  If someone gives you feedback that you don’t feel in your gut to be valid or does it in a mean-spirited way, you can choose to let it go.  The choice is always yours.

The other side of the coin, giving feedback in a way that is open, honest and motivated by positive intention can not only be a gift, but a true act of service.  The key to giving feedback is to deliver it and then let go of the outcome.  You get to make the choices on whether you give the feedback and how you deliver it.  What the receiver does with it is up to them.  Far too many leaders expect and even demand that anything they say will result in some change on the other person’s part.  Your job is to deliver the message and what happens after that is not up to you.

Our SoulWork for the week is to think about the opportunities that we have to share genuine feedback with those around us and then act on those that feel right to you.  Remember that being open and honest with yourself and those around you is the key and that feedback is a gift when that is our intention.

SoulWork: Say Please, Say Thank You!

As another Monday rolls around, I’m ready to start off the week by adding a touch of authenticity to a few simple words – saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’.  Most of us use these phrases every day, but I wonder how much of that is truly heartfelt.  I was taught as a young child to say ‘Please’ when asking for something, and ‘Thank You’ when someone does something for you.  It was common courtesy and I have to admit, I usually don’t think that much about it.

This week, I’m going to give myself the challenge of actually being present when I use these expressions.  I’ll use them when I really want to express the sentiment, and not just say the words out of a sense of obligation or ‘political correctness’.  Common courtesy is a great idea, but I think it loses something when there isn’t real intention behind it.  We call them expressions because they are intended to express a genuine emotion, but so often at work we use them without thinking, much less feeling.

So think about your intention when writing or saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’.  Very likely we all define these words differently, but the definition is less important that being mindful of that intention.  For me, ‘Please’ implies a feeling of respect toward the person that I’m making a request – and that I’m making a request, not a command.  ‘Thank You’ is most often purely an expression of gratitude and appreciation.  Simple words, but potentially powerful when they are genuine and sincere.

That’s our SoulWork for the week!  Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I really mean it!