A Page From my Personal Journal – April 16, 2003
April 16, 2003
Yesterday Dale went shopping for clothes without me. (We usually shop together.)
She came back with two summer dresses that look very comfortable. One was pleasing to my eye. The other was not and I told her so.
Desire and expression:
We want our loved ones to love what we love. It just feels better that way. But it’s unreasonable to expect love-agreement in every situation, on every political situation, and regarding fashion.
I told her I didn’t like the pink/red dress. (I guess I wasn’t sure what color it was.)
I didn’t say that it reminds me of an old grandmother wearing gaudy clothes. I didn’t say it reminds me of something her mother would wear. And I congratulated myself on not saying the truth.
I did curl my nose, squint my eyes and hold my mouth like I had stomach cramps – several times. Sounds harsh doesn’t it?
Note to self:
If the good is to have meaning, it must from time to time mean that we express the bad.
If we can only express the good it becomes irrelevant. Listen to the good. Listen to the bad. They give meaning to each other.
The truth is, it’s not just about ‘the truth’. It’s about me. It’s about me feeling insignificant, or worse yet, irrelevant. I feel irrelevant if all I can say is what you want to hear.
Successful leaders elevate the relevance of others.
- Make constructive dissent easy, even expected. Ask teams, “What’s one small way this idea might be better?”
- Provide space to challenge current practices. Ask teams, “What do we need to stop?”
- Stay intensely curious about others and their ideas. Explore motivations and goals.
- Realize that preferences aren’t moral imperatives.
How might leaders elevate the significance and/or relevance of others?
If we don’t “tell it like it is”, we might as well say nothing! Somethings need said, during one’s life without sugar coating it, as harsh as that sounds, speak the truth and stay relevant to the situation.
Thanks Tim. “Speak the truth and stay relevant.” Nicely said!
My wife often joins me in shopping. When I pick something out that isn’t quite right she will say something like “oh, you know what I absolutely love you in? A grey check; is that the look you are hoping for? Because va va voom!” Okay, she might not literally say “va va voom” but I get the picture and just like that she steers me into the right clothes but also demonstrates what leadership looks like. Clarify intent, help self discover and nudge people towards the real goal. And be harsh on the problem and kind on people.
Thanks Alf. Your 3 steps are gold. Clarify Intent, Help Self Discover, and Nudge People towards the real goal.
I like how Doug Conant former CEO of Campbell’s Soup says… Tough on standard. Tender with People.
Is your wife a coach, also?
Sometimes when I throw a brick, it helps to cover it with velvet. I still throw the brick, but make sure the landing is not harder than I meant.
Thanks Duane. I’m enjoying how readers are responding to this post. Love how the topic expands.
Sometimes, we just need the courage to pick up a brick. Some of us are people pleasers. In that case, it takes courage to speak up.
I often tell people that we cannot make a situation better without tactfully sharing when something is not going well.
Thanks Kathy. I’m a huge fan of focusing on positives. But, as you indicate, negative feedback is helpful, especially when we don’t see ourselves. (PS…I’m not saying my wife didn’t see herself)
If I can help you understand my intent, you will not fear my content.
Dan’s point about good and bad need to co-exist, as they each help define the other, is spot on.
If we only deliver the good, the power behind what we are gushing about will be washed away amongst the everyday “appreciation”.
I enjoy the book “Drive” by Daniel Pink. His claim is that our intrinsic motivation is driven by Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.
If we only provide the good, I’d hypothesize we are removing the opportunity for others to pursue Mastery. How can you be a true master if you believe everything is good (but not being able to quantify “how good?”)
I really enjoyed the 4 points under Reflection 2017. Especially #1 “What’s one small way this idea might be better?”
I can easily imagine the power behind strong support for ideas, plus adding in that small question. Of course my intent has to be about appreciation of the current level of work and possible improvement. I wouldn’t want others to think that I was just putting “velvet around a brick” about an idea they may internally perceive as some of their best work.
Thanks Nick… your opening sentence is filled with meaning. If I can help you understand my intent, you will not fear my content.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen tensions go down when we explore the intent of the behaviors we see.
This post is problematic for me, Dan. I guess I was waiting for you to ask your wife, “do you feel good in that dress?” Perhaps ask, “why?” Maybe it solved a problem (I needed something for a particular event) or struck something within her (this color reminds me of…) or maybe she saw something completely different than you did when she looked in the mirror. I’m not commenting as criticism of your marriage, but rather in the context of your post – comparing it to how leaders approach their people and offering criticism. Yes, there are times where you just have to say you don’t like something, but I hope it might be after asking some probing questions and considering why that person made that choice.
Thanks Katie. I understand your approach to this. I hesitate to post things like this because there is so much context left out.
When we found my old journal, I thumbed through and came across this section. I read it to my wife. We couldn’t stop laughing.
I’m with you. Don’t judge quickly…explore…be open.
I was being transparent with my personal observation that we have to speak up in order to be relevant. However, it’s not always that important. There is a bit of tongue-in-cheek in this post. It’s a very small thing. But I made – what was to me – an important observation about myself.
This goes back to a comment I made recently on one of your blogs. For situations like these it is always best to deal with them as the Bible teaches; in truth and love. I think if a situation is always dealt with that in mind, you can’t go wrong.
Thanks Christopher. There’s a Proverb that brings mercy and truth together. In my opinion..the epitome of character is found in people who exemplify these qualities at the same time. It’s not about being tough sometimes and loving others. It’s about living both at the same time.
I agree with Katie above….why did you have to say anything? If it made her feel good and/or she was going for a new or updated look that was different, maybe the issue was you(?)…..It’s great to be in a relationship where you can both express yourself, but I have found over the years that it’s not just not that important to communicate every time I see things differently, whether that’s with my wife, in the office or with friends and family….I expected your 2017 view to be different….Not clear how your comment back then was actually constructive dissent. 🙂
Thanks Bob. Please check my response to Katie.
This post is a glimpse into the playfulness of the relationship I have with my wife. We both laughed hilariously when I read here the post in my journal.
Why did I have to say anything? I didn’t. 🙂 Holding your tongue is a wonderful skill. Even though I didn’t hold it in this case.
Thanks for stopping in.
Interesting thoughts from everyone about only expressing the good. I find it much more prevelant that people only express the bad so that when good is expressed it doesn’t feel genuine. The very last page of Crucial Confrontations has the most eloquent thought on this I have read.
Thanks Zac. Yes, bad is stronger than good. We notice it first and remember it longest. At least in my case, I have to work to pay attention to the good.
How did your supper taste? smiles
Thanks Stan. I wouldn’t have remembered the event if I hadn’t opened my journal. Thankfully, I didn’t write anything about supper. I think that’s a good sign.
I would love to know how she responded? 🙂
Thanks Marike. We don’t remember the event or the clothing. All I have is the journal entry. I’m thinking it’s a good thing that I didn’t write about her response. 🙂
All I know is when I read it to her the other day, she lost it. We laughed like idiots.