One of my sons’ best friends was moving away. I knew it for months, but didn’t tell him. I knew it would be hard for him, and I thought we should talk about it. But I also thought it would be better if he heard the news from his friend and came to me himself.
Weeks passed. All the adults in the neighborhood knew about the move, but my son still hadn’t mentioned it. So, I decided I’d better tell him–if someone else hadn’t already done it.
“Oh, yeah,” was his response. “He told me last week. I wish he wasn’t
“I’m a little surprised you didn’t talk to me about it,” I said.
“I thought you didn’t know,” my son replied. “I thought you’d be hurt if you didn’t hear it from the other moms.”
Home isn’t the only place where protecting people can backfire. It can happen at work, too.
The other day, one of my clients, very successful in her job, confided in me that she hadn’t done so well with her previous company.
“What do you think makes the difference?” I asked.
“Good feedback,” she said. “And I don’t mean just positive feedback. My manager lets me know if I mess up, too. I got my feelings hurt a time or two, but I listened, and it paid off.”
Are there things you aren’t saying to people because you’re afraid of hurting them or making them angry? Practice. Go to someone you trust, and role-play constructive ways to say what you need to say.
Then give someone the gift of direct, honest, tactful feedback.
Who are you protecting?