Circle Three: the nineteenth
Feedback. Credibility. NYC. Love.
Welcome back to Circle Three!
Last week's most-clicked link was on financial advice for your 20-year-old self. I got some rave feedback on this article, and it’s certainly applicable to everyone. Here’s a photo from Montana last weekend after a big snowfall. Enjoy this issue!
So what’s Circle Three? For new readers, the name comes from Seth Godin’s Linchpin, where he posits that the internet has created a circle beyond family and business: a tribe. Where knowledge is exchanged and our gifts are shared.
Thanks for being a part of this third circle. Let’s create something.
One Big Idea
“When you’re young and aspiring—your key ‘dial’ for credibility is work product and delivery. …Delivering with excellence and fulfilling your promises are the key things you’re going for.” — Brooke Vuckovic, Clinical Professor of Leadership at the Kellogg School of Management
Professor Vuckovic wrote this when I asked her how a young leader can actively build and demonstrate credibility. Credibility is one of the components of executive presence, regardless of age. How can you improve your credibility?
Circles of Thought
From the New York Times, this article draws upon a psychologist’s study exploring how specific questions can lead to love. Three sets of questions slowly probe into each others’ vulnerabilities. These questions are great for ice-breakers or more intimate relationships.
The artist releases the masterpiece from the raw material. In this case, the artist is a dual-wielding robot with a wire, and the material is foam. This incredible video shows how a bunny is brought to life from the foam.
“What are you doing to nurture your creative self?” As children, we seek out ways to practice and express creativity. Here are some tips on how to get over feelings of being a creative imposter and be driven to action.
The Big Apple looked quite a bit different in the 1940’s. This site places street views from the five city boroughs on a map for exploration. So many things have changed, like the cars and clothes in the photos, but many buildings remain untouched.
These products from Triangle Notebook are beautiful, useful, and unique: from double-sided notebooks to triangular notebooks, they could be a fun gift for the notebook-lover in your life.
Inner Circle: Feedback
Receiving feedback, and using our filters to decipher what we receive.
Receiving feedback is tough.
I tend to go on defense or avoid the toughest conversations out of fear of uncomfortable feedback. Ego is tied to whatever performance review, test score, comment, or advice comes my way. There are tricks to overcoming this reaction.
I've learned to understand the power of receiving feedback well. That is what I can control. Thanks for the Feedback is a deep dive and this blog post from Wes Kao a shallow dive into how to look at feedback of all sorts.
We don't need to try to learn how to give good feedback. We need, as both sources state and I agree with, to learn how to receive feedback. Open dialogue will benefit our personal and professional relationships. Dialogue comes about through honesty. Without fear of retaliation. Without defensiveness. Without regret.
We can learn to see feedback as a gift, even when it rips at the soul of who we are.
Two of the many takeaways that resonate with me regarding feedback are learning to understand the types of feedback and the importance of labels.
Types of Feedback and Cross-Transactions
Here’s a simple example to communicate cross-transactions: as a child, I draw a scraggly house and my dad then shows me how to draw it better, but I was looking for some appreciation and praise. I’m crushed.
The types of feedback include appreciation, coaching, and evaluation. Misunderstandings arise when the receiver expects one thing but is given another. You might be looking for coaching and how to improve, but your boss or friend offers appreciation in the form of a slap on the back and a "good job". When we cross the lines of expectations and responses, we can feel invisible and misunderstood and take to heart the feedback that was offered.
We need to get aligned by asking:
"What is my purpose in giving/receiving this feedback?"
And to follow-up: is it the right purpose from both my and the other party's points of view?
Ask these simple questions to yourself or out loud to be sure everyone is on the same page and the feedback can be understood by giver and receiver.
These are the nicely packaged ideas that carry lots of personal interpretation and weight — "act your age," "be more proactive," or "be more assertive." These labels offer a general view of feedback that someone might be trying to offer; however, the label needs support because a label by itself is dangerous.
One example from the book is the label "Be more confident."
What might be heard: "Give the impression that you know things even if you don't."
What was meant: "Have the confidence to say you don't know when you don't know."
The effect of labels happens across all feedback types. So what's the solution?
You could avoid all labels.
Another fix is to bring the label into context. First, describe the past — the data and interpretations that gave rise to the label. Second, describe where the feedback/label is going — what behavior change could come about.
Receiving feedback well is a skill. And it's learnable. Two ways to start are to be upfront with expectations in feedback conversations and to dig into the desired change(s) behind labels.
State of the Circle
Dan is a mechanical design engineer interested in the intersection of design and technology. I love making connections between concepts and passions. Start a conversation and reply to this email with what you’re working on.
🔊 Listening: R.E.M. from Song Exploder
📖 Reading: Screwtape Letters (slow and steady with this one)
➕ Win: Wrapped up my jaunt out west.
🔑 Travel Key: Handwritten thank-you notes.
This week was: A blast!
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