Are you Smarter Than All Your Friends?

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Are you Smarter Than All Your Friends?

Are you Smarter Than All Your Friends?

This is meant to be sassy. Here’s the point. Are you surrounded by people that just appreciate who you are without challenging you or pushing you towards a better you?

It is amazing to have people around us that affirm us. Incredible to have encouragement, positive feedback, praise and acknowledgment.

More importantly, or at least in addition, we need friends and colleagues who will kindly but clearly point out gaps in our thinking, habits we should be embracing, information we should be paying attention to.

A pattern I have seen in my life and witnessed with clients is that once a big, hard decision has been made friends and family come out of the woodwork with comments such as “finally!” or “I never did like …”, etc.

How do we reconcile respecting each other’s boundaries, not forcing opinions and advice on others and yet having the courage to offer insight and feedback when we see significant concerns?

This obviously differs depending on the kind of relationship we are talking about. Obviously, with my coaching clients it is my job to give this kind of feedback and observation. In the coaching world we call it “direct communication” and it is one of the competencies that we need to grow as coaches.

So, what about direct reports? Here is where I notice the need for growth in so many leaders. What is the language we can use to offer feedback without harming the trust in the relationship?

Some feedback and suggestions are just part of our job as managers of people. There is a duty to our direct reports to support them in their growth, not just them getting their tasks done. Regular meetings where the conversation includes discussion around growth goals make this more simple and effective.

Permission based feedback is always best beyond the basics. This can take the form of an ongoing agreement in a relationship where both parties expressly agree to commit to each other at this deep level.

Here are some examples of what that might sound like:

“Would you be willing to partner with me and support my growth and development by being open to giving and receiving honest insight and feedback regularly?”

“I’d love your insight in to what I can do differently and better and I’d be open to sharing mine with you. Does that appeal to you? How often should we set aside time to do that?”

All of these scenarios work better when they are two-way. Trust is maintained more easily when it is not just top-down.

Similar principles apply when it is colleagues or friends. Taking the first step to see if there is openness to speaking in to each other’s lives at this level paves the way.

I sure don’t give just anyone this freedom in my life. Lots of people give me advice, weekly, on where to advertise, how to market, how to make my book a top seller, what plants to put in at my venue, etc. We need filters for what to pay attention to and what to gently let slide on by.

Pick those people well that you would be willing to have give you feedback and insights. Make sure they are people you trust to do so without ulterior motives. Make time for this to happen regularly. This takes out a lot of the weirdness because you aren’t only having a meeting when you have a big concern.

We are working on that for ourselves. It isn’t always easy to get feedback but it can save a whole lot of heartache and loss.

Who can you put on your growth and development team?

Until next time,


Marilyn Orr, CEC, PCC is an executive and leadership coach with Capacity Building Coaching, and training partner on EQ-i 2.0 with MHS. She is also co-owner of new Texas Hill Country eco event center and wellness retreat, The Cedars Ranch.

Marilyn provides professional coaching for executives and business leaders, mentor coaching for coaches, and leadership development support in the form of coaching skills training, soft-skills development, facilitation of key discussions and team coaching. Would you like to work with Marilyn? Reach out to her today.

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