Tell Me About Myself

I just realized that seeking feedback is a very selfish thing.  As I've discussed before, the act of talking can be thought of as an act of charity: you are giving away your hard-earned experience for use by others.  In contrast, the act of listening is an exercise in selfishness: you are more likely to gain new information and expertise.  After simple listening, asking questions is even more selfish!  By asking questions, you can steer a conversation in a direction that is interesting or useful to you.  Today, we're going to take selfishness to a whole new level.

Let's talk about me.

Asking questions is nice, but if we want to be really serious about improving, then we need to be even more selfish and start gathering information about ourselves.  Specifically, we want to encourage people to give us specific, constructive criticism.  Until we know what we suck at, how can we get better?

So, today, we're going to try to ask as many questions as possible, just like yesterday.  However, today our goal is to ask as many questions about our own performance as possible without annoying people.

Tell Me About Myself

Task: Ask people about your performance.

Info: Don't be afraid!  Getting feedback is a gift.  If someone has the smarts to evaluate our performance and the courage to share that valuable information with us, we should be grateful.  So, adopt that perspective during today's challenge.  After you're in a good head-space, start gently questioning certain people about how you're doing.  This is especially valuable with bosses, subordinates, and close, work-peers.  These people know the most about our performance and have the most to gain from our improvement.  Questioning people with little familiarity with our performance is not helpful and will make us seem strange: "Hello grocery-store clerk, how do you think I'm doing with regards to empathy?" Uh.

Finally, start with open-ended questions and encourage candid responses.  Assure the individual that you really want to hear the truth (and be prepared for it).  As information comes your way, listen carefully and don't react even if it's very negative.  Simply gather information.  Later you can decide if the feedback is valid and brainstorm ways to improve.

Goal: Gather as much feedback as possible from co-workers, bosses, and subordinates.

Getting feedback can be tough, but if we re-frame the process as a way to improve, then receiving even the harshest of criticism can seem like fun. However, if you feel like the situation is getting too intense, try some of the tips from the Week of Calm to help you make it through.

Further reading:

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