Monday, May 6, 2013

"Let's get this nightmare over with" - giving, accepting and acting on feedback

One of the interesting mistakes we make is when we presume that other people see the world as we do. This happens all the time, especially when we meet someone new. It's a challenge to listen carefully to them, read their signals, and try to see things, at least a little, as they do. This brief story from Chris McCormick, CEO of LL Bean, via the New York Times, is a perfect example of this situation:

When I met my wife, Beth, in 2007, I invited her to join me in some outdoor activities. We kayaked one day and went on a 30-mile bike trip the next. On a break while biking, I asked if she wanted to return to the house or head in a different direction. I thought that she was enjoying herself, but she said, rather sternly, “Let’s get this nightmare over with.” Now when we bike together, we keep it short — around 15 miles.

As I read this story, I thought: what a great scenario for us to learn from. McCormick asked for feedback. Beth gave it - forthrightly (an understatement), and McCormick took it to heart. All three of these acts are difficult on their own; putting them together is like magic. See what can happen?

Inviting and using feedback is discussed in Chapter 3 of "The Mistake Bank" - and I wish I had seen this story before writing that section!

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