So, I’ve been let know that my feedback is ‘blunt’. Which, I suppose, is better than some other alternatives. Still, I’d at least like to contextualize it, since I really can’t deny it. Hey, other people’s opinions are valid! They may not be correct, but I’m willing to acknowledge that it’s probably true. So, I guess I want to say I am not diplomatic, but do care.
So, I can be a little obtuse. I don’t always pick up on the subtleties of human interaction. Not a lot of evidence it’s actually worth a label, but… I recall going to meetings with my clients, who are executives at the C-level. We’d come out and they’d ask me “what did you see?” I’d respond with an analysis of the performance problem, and possible paths. I’d return the question, and hear things like “that’s the person with the real power”, “that one doesn’t like this other”, and other such perceptions. I just don’t see that stuff!
Even back when I was supervising students, I remember a couple of them saying “we never have any doubt about whether you’re not happy with something”. #oops On the other hand, I also typically don’t hear people saying I’m deceptive, or misleading. My opinions are pretty clear, but so too, generally, are my motives. (Because I’m inept at hiding them, I would suspect!) I do strive to make my feedback instructive as well as constructive. I perhaps over-err on the side of explaining why I’m saying something, and try to remember not to offer advice to fix it unless asked. (Not perfectly, by any means!)
I do also recognize that I may not always contextualize my feedback. In particular, I can forget to say what’s good before I say what should be fixed. I could defend myself and say that I don’t critique unless it’s worth fixing, but really I shouldn’t assume they know that. I am not deliberately mean, and never mean to hurt anyone’s feelings; I try to recognize that most folks don’t have bad intentions. And, of course, I don’t always succeed. Similarly, I try to admit my flaws, but again, don’t always succeed.
So, for the record, I care very much. And, we can be awesome! So, I do my best to share what I’ve learned. I freely admit my total luck at having opportunities to be the right place and have exposure to some great minds. I’ve had to work hard to learn it, mostly because it came easy early on. Then at the higher levels I learned that I couldn’t just wing it anymore.
So, my main point here is that when you see me critique things, it’s because it can be better. I do it publicly (though usually anonymously), so we can all learn. And I welcome feedback and pushback! I have lots to learn, and always will.
Oh, and please, please don’t be intimidated to talk to me. I’m really not an ogre. (I am a bit of an introvert, so I can seem standoffish, but it’s really just insecurity ;). Admittedly, I can have a very short fuse for folks trying to take advantage of me (or others), but… I really do care, and want to help everyone. I just have a responsibility to allocate my time in the most efficient ways. As I’ve said before, I talk ideas for free; I help someone personally for drinks/dinner; if someone’s making a quid, I deserve a cut. Until I hear otherwise, that’s seemed fair for close on two decades. So me: not diplomatic, but do care. Fair enough?