Especially in times of COVID-19 confinement, it’s so easy to get our feelings hurt even from the ones we know have our best interests at heart. Ordinarily, we spend time with many people everyday who are apt to say nice things. “You look great today.” “What a neat idea!” “Thank you for bringing me a cookie.”
These are little things that we take for granted but they actually mean a lot. These pleasantries tend to disappear in quarantine. I mean how many times can you tell your shelter in place mate that she looks good in those same dirty sweats she’s been wearing for a week.
On a recent peer supervision call, I asked one of my Coach Trainer buddies for feedback on a blog post I wrote. It was an article that I thought was pretty good. I also thought we had the same philosophy about sharing feedback. We didn’t. Her idea was to take a hard look at what was wrong and help to fix it.
I got off the phone feeling uncomfortable and wanting to abandon the article.
Instead, I coached myself on the interaction. Why was I so willing to drop my writing instead of revisiting it and improving it.
I found myself criticizing myself and calling myself names. Why do you have to be such a baby?
And I realized that I was feeling hurt and sad and that made it hard to want to continue with the thing that led to my bad feelings. But was it what I wrote or was it what happened in the interaction with Jessie. What might have been better? How could I have taken her comments and used them to improve what I produced rather than attacking and abandoning my article?
The result was this email that led to a talk where we worked out a better way to help each other.
And I do mean dear Jessie. You’ve been such a phenomenal support to me.
You have great ideas. And, I believe you are a true friend.
I left our call feeling bad. And I remembered that I’d felt that way the last time or the one before when we spoke.
It was bothering me, so I did some soul searching to figure out why.
I think I’ve got it.,
It’s in the delivery of feedback.
When someone presents you with their brainchild, they make themselves vulnerable to your judgments.
It’s a sacred place and a bit frightening too. It’s taking the risk of having your burgeoning ideas shot down. The truth is you’re sharing for validation even if you may be asking for “feedback.” What we really want is to know what worked and then how to make it even better.
That’s why I’ve always suggested to coaches and others that it’s very important to first acknowledge 3 – 5 good things about the “gift” you were given and no more than one that might be better if changed.
That way the creator can relax and feel acknowledged as she opens to possible improvements.
I hope that makes sense.
I know you have my best interests in mind.
I also hope that I told you this gently. You deserve tremendous caring, respect and acknowledgement.
You’ve been so helpful to me over the years. I hope it’s ok that I told you.
Our relationship means a lot to me and I want to always nurture and preserve it.
Thanks for reading
With love and respect
Jessie called me the next day after reading the email. She said she totally understood why I might have been uncomfortable. She also admitted that other people had pointed out how she looks for what’s broken with the idea of fixing it, while neglecting to mention the parts that worked well. She said that my suggestions made total sense. That she had to remind herself to applaud the good parts as well as making suggestions for things that might have not worked as well from her perspective.
I breathed a sigh of relief – both for my article and more importantly for the opportunity to deepen our communication and relationship.
I think knowing how to sensitively give feedback is particularly important during this time of COVID-19 quarantine. It’s much easier to get on each other’s nerves. We need to know how to take care of each other. I wanted to share this approach with you to help you stay close emotionally when you may feel claustrophobic/too close physically.
Would love to know your thoughts.
Be Strong and Healthy