Straight talk - it's not for sissies.
Have you ever had to tell someone something really awkward or difficult? The answer is most likely yes – we all have. However, in our world of cyber communication, it’s pretty easy to avoid a face-to-face conversation, so it’s becoming more common for the hard-to-say stuff to happen digitally. I’m old enough to remember when it was deplorable for someone to break-up via text and now it’s the most frequently used method (sigh……)
However in the work place, there is no avoiding the hard conversation, especially if you want to get great at your job. This hard work life lesson is one of the most common, so you'll be WAY ahead of the game once you figure this shit out. Today's hack:
Get comfortably coachable.
Back to my opening question - the last time you had to have an awkward, in-person conversation, there was probably a role play, stuck on repeat in your head about how the person was going to react to your bad news reveal. Because unless you're a total douche, most of us don't enjoy hurting other people's feelings. But imagine for a moment you were 100% certain that the person you had to speak with was NOT going to get upset, was NOT going to freak out, and would be totally open to what you had to say. You wouldn't even think of it as an awkward conversation. THAT'S the kind of atmosphere YOU get to create when you become comfortably coachable. How?
Open your mind to the truth that there are opinions about your work that are different from your own. And just because those opinions are different, doesn’t mean the person who has them is clueless, vindictive, or doesn’t like you. Their opinion is different because they view your performance from their perspective, not yours. Their lens may include a lot more years of experience and involve dozens of people who came before you, doing the same job and making the same mistakes you are. Try to suspend the TOTALLY NORMAL instinct for defensiveness just long enough to hear what they have to say.
Now, repeat to yourself what they said. Work REALLY hard to find a grain of truth in the feedback (no matter how painful it is to do so). Believe it or not, it’s a gift when someone actually takes the time to critique your performance because it means they care enough about your success to enter into a (potentially) difficult conversation that’s sole purpose is your improvement.
After the truth of the feedback makes sense and has sunk it, fix the shortcoming. FAST. Because it proves to your boss that not only were you tough enough to handle the conversation, you actually took the feedback to heart and started immediately changing behavior accordingly.
The beauty of being comfortably coachable is that it creates the ultimate win/win situation. Your boss will quickly realize how well you handle and adjust to feedback, so they’ll give it you more frequently. And since you're now more comfortable receiving it, your professional growth and performance will accelerate. Plus, you'll be learning how to comfortably coach others, reducing the anxiety you feel when you're the one initiating the awkward conversation. Hell, maybe you'll even have the guts to do it in person, which is a mountain you'll have to eventually scale the day you become the boss. Get comfortably coachable now and you'll get there faster.
Hope this helped, now go get shit done.