Wednesday, June 25, 2014


We love it or hate it but it's everywhere. Whether part of a formal process within a job or just advice offered by friends & family, we give it and hear it all the time. It's part of the mentoring process, part of building trust and a mirror in which we can grow and make choices.

The trick is how to distinguish between good feedback and unmerited commentary or criticism?

If I receive unsolicited feedback, and the giver doesn't ask if I'm open to hearing her comments, I will often disregard the advice or idea just because I'm human. I get defensive; it may not play to what I want to hear that moment; or I may not like the giver.

The way I balance feedback is by asking it for it. I create the opportunity and request thoughtful input.
Feedback is often most useful when we ask for it, listen to it, and action it. The action can be as small as thinking it through or as large as trying something new.

Without feedback, I would never have started wearing blue… never applied for a certain job… never re-considered a word choice…

Feedback won't change…but we can.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

small talk (ick)

I am not good at small talk. I prefer to listen than search my brain (which will have suddenly gone blank) for something innocuous to say. So called "safe" topics (like the weather) make me sound silly. I tend to dive into topics about which I have passion and say trite things about those which don't bother me at the moment… usually making no new friends with those for whom the trite is their current passion.

Small talk is meant to "break the ice" with strangers and allow for connections points to emerge. It serves a great purpose.

Given it's patio season /garden party time, small talk opportunities are ramping up. I'm reviewing my previous posts and figuring out some good opening lines that, hopefully, will kick start someone else into talking and I can settle in and listen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

When you are busy, ask more questions

It seems like the faster we go, the less we question what we are doing or why. Yet, many agree it takes more effort to undo /correct than it does to take an extra moment the first time around.

Here's some simple advice, often forgotten, that my kid prompted me with the other day:
"Why is this important?" (vision, risks, urgency)
"Who can help?" (dependencies, support, impacts)

Ask yourself. Ask your manager when getting an assignment. Ask your co-worker who is racing about. Ask your kid stuck on homework. As your friends…

Maybe you'll save time taking time?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Easier to give than receive

That's true of advice and career help. It's often easiest to offer an opinion than hear one; it's easier to help someone make a connection or re-evaluate a career choice than give similar direction to yourself.

Why might that be?

Partially because our own insecurities get in the way? Because, when we're at a cross-roads, there are often more questions than a sense of direction?

The next time I offer advice or guidance, I will try and remember it's hard to receive…even when it's requested. I will also remember that asking for help or advice can be a great strength if I genuinely want what's offered.

The question I'm asking you today is: how do you know when it's time to re-evaluate?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Yup, not a usual topic for mentoring or networking but certainly a key factor in how/why one builds community.

There are all kinds of definitions but this post is just about the one where you're surrounded by teams, friends or other communities and you still feel isolated. That kind of loneliness can last a day or a lifetime (or feel like a lifetime).

Loneliness can be self-imposed or be a matter of circumstance. It doesn't really matter the reason if one is feeling lonely.

Networks are not a buffer against being lonely. Friends are. Family is. Friends and families are networks and communities by definition but, when feeling lonely, sometimes strangers and acquaintances are easier to talk with - they won't necessarily push for action or challenge the facts of the story. These conversations are how work relationships can progress to friendship or just make things awkward. Measure the risks and make a decision that works best for you.

Basically, reaching out when feeling lonely is a great thing to do. If, like me, you have days where it's just easier to acknowledge being lonely and not reach out, that's fine too. We build communities in advance of a crisis, small or large, so there is help if we want it during.