Friday, May 22, 2009

(Don't) Tell Me What I Want to Hear

One of my running personal jokes with my husband is that he NEVER tells me what I want to hear. Far from it! Instead he gives me his direct, honest feedback about everything. And while I tease him that sometimes I just want to hear warm and fuzzy platitudes, he knows I really value his input and advice. (AND he knows that I would kick his butt if he just pawned me off with meaningless niceties, but that's a different issue).

Most people will never do that, though, at least in my experience. We don't often share our true thoughts and feelings with one another. Sometimes because the other person doesn't *really* want to hear anything that's not positive. Some people are afraid. Some will turn around and accuse you of snobbery, jealousy, envy...or any other negativity. Truthfulness seems to be considered "rude" in our current There Are No Losers, Every Child Gets An Award, You Deserve a Pat on the Back Just For Being Here social environment.

I understand about social niceties and manners, and I get the reasons for little white lies. But when someone really is asking for bare, unvarnished feedback, I personally think it's rude *not* to honor that request. If someone truly wants your honesty, I think it's more respectful to your relationship to give it. There are a million ways to gently share your thoughts, even if they are less than positive, so why not? How can a person grow or change without real feedback?

I have very few people in my life (besides my husband) on whom I can depend to tell me what they really think, if I ask Sometimes even if I don't ask...they'll tell me anyway. And I love that. Yeah, it might hurt up front, but only because I am a fragile, sensitive artist-type person. That outer shell you see is just a cover! But I do love that honesty, because it makes me think differently. It might change how I do something, or how I feel or think about something. It's growth medicine.

Recently a friend mentioned something about an aspect of my business. My first response was, literally, "Ouch.". She immediately began to apologize and I told her, "Don't apologize. Ouch is good!" And it is. Those little prickles tell me that I need to look at something, analyze it, sort out how I really feel about it, and then make any necessary changes. I know her comment came from the heart, out of a desire to help. I took that comment home and chewed it over for a while, played with it, and it ended up helping me finalize something I'd been struggling with. Was that a positive? Of course it was. And so worth the trouble to get there.

So to my husband and my friends: please, keep doing what you're doing. Tell me what you think and feel. I might not be overjoyed initially, but I will respect it and learn from it. And I will respect *you* for it. Your feedback is invaluable and I cherish it. Don't ever tell me what I want to hear.



  1. Just promise that the high fives get the same amount of time as the ouches! I find that I focus on the ouches and forget to focus on the things I really have achieved! Yes, we all have room for more harsh feedback but we also need to take time and dance a jig when it turns out we are a super star!

  2. Yeah, that's the hard part. Let's make sure we do celebrate those "up" occasions. It's good sometimes too to glance back and feel good about how far we've come. :)