What do people say about us when we are not in the room?
By this I don’t mean just idle gossip. Rather, what words do your friends and colleagues use when describing you to other people? Over the past two months I have had the good fortune to receive such feedback. It was indirect and unplanned, but also invaluable as it provided insight into how others see me.
Firstly, the feedback was all positive. Secondly, it tended to emphasise those aspects of my personality that I most take for granted; i.e. those bits of me that are so ‘me’ that I no longer see them. We can all benefit from greater awareness in this area.
In a professional context, 180 degree peer reviews can be utilised. However, over 15 years spent in professional and corporate environments I have never seen this done well. The process is often compromised by either a lack of clarity around purpose, or a lack of trust amongst participants that feedback will be given honestly and received openly.
Understandably, it can be uncomfortable having such conversations. Individuals who would choose the comfort of the familiar over the discomfort of the unknown will resist or withhold pertinent information. For those of us intent on growth they can serve as a catalyst for exciting changes.
I have recently had cause to reflect on the significant people in my life and realised that all too often there is too much that goes unsaid. If I have enjoyed the benefit of indirectly learning what others say about me when I am not around, perhaps they could as well?
What do you say about people when they are not in the room? How do you describe your closest and most trusted friends or colleagues to others in your circle?
Why don’t you just say it to them?