Have you ever been given feedback in such a gentle way that although you felt loved and cared for, you weren’t at all clear what was being said?
Or, perhaps conversely, you were crystal clear but didn’t feel seen or valued within the exchange?
It is important to Conscious Business Women that we are gracious and connected to our hearts and yet not blurring the lines of communication with our caring. I like to think about it as the integration of the head and heart. The heart wants to assure you that you are appreciated, cared for, and that support is available; the head wants to make sure that you know exactly what you are doing that needs improvement, that you are committed to finding a solution and that you are aware of the potential consequences of not changing your behavior.
From my own executive experience in Corporate America, the head was more honored than the heart. Being called, “soft” was not a compliment! And yet, those managers who, “called it the way they saw it,” with little regard for the feelings of those they were addressing, didn’t fare any better in the annual employee feedback survey.
Whether you are trying to improve the behavior of your spouse, your child, your employee, your colleague, or even yourself, protecting the person’s self-esteem is vital. If you cut a person down, they will stop believing in themselves; if you imply they can do nothing right – you will find yourself trapped in the role of constantly telling them what to do. And yet, if you are so intent on building them up, you will confuse them as what the actual issue is and they will see no reason to change!
The solution is to balance the input from the head and the heart.
The heart wants to make sure the conversation is held in private, and to ensure you understand that you are doing most things well; yet understand what needs to improve.
The head needs you to understand that this one thing is undermining the rest of your performance and that not fixing it will have specified negative consequences. Then, the head and heart want to work together to help you to resolve the issue and commit to it. The head wants the specifics clearly defined and the heart wants to offer whatever support is needed. The head wants to be sure that when the conversation is over, you walk away with a clear understanding: what the issue is, why it is unacceptable, how to fix it and the consequences of not fixing it.
This process works as beautifully for self-coaching as it does for coaching others. Some see the head as a masculine trait and the heart as a feminine trait, but actually we all have both traits regardless of our sex. What a beautiful modeling of the equality between the sexes and how working together in harmony yields a higher and better outcome for all.