Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why We Hate Feedback

It's hard listening to what we do wrong. Whether it's from a client, a consultant, friend or spouse. It  hurts our ego and makes us think less of what we think we are. We rationalize that the feedback is biased or just perceptions, and not reality.

We're wrong of course. Most the time the feedback we get is right on. It's reality. We just can't process it. We can't accept that we're not the pretty picture we create of ourselves.

I read a book a while ago, Willful Blindness, that suggested humans are hard-wired to ignore negative feedback. It's a survival thing. Think of all those in desperate situations, like a concentration camp. Nazis all around with machine guns pointing at you.  Yet, you manage to hope for... life.

Less drastic by a million light years is hearing that your client thinks your creative is not edgy enough and that you're late returning phone calls. Of course they're wrong. They didn't understand the strategy. And, they only remember the one time you didn't return a call, on the weekend after all.

If they were right you'd go nuts because you'd have to change. And you don't want to.

If we had smaller egos, feedback wouldn't hurt as much. We would be smaller targets with fewer nerve endings. If we had no ego, feedback wouldn't  hurt at all and we'd actually do something positive to change.

The Zen Master Dogen was right: to study the self (improve) is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things...

Want great client relationships and increased client retention? Deflate the balloon.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Partnering With Clients, Ugh.

I know it's trite, business speak, consultant jargon. Partnering. Give me a break. Ruin the start of the New Year.

But give me a moment to explore.  This all started when I read a blog post, Building Partnerships Inside and Outside the Organization, by the leadership guru Marshall Goldsmith. What does partnering really mean? Is there something beyond the hype? I think so and here's why.

Partnering is an ideal client relationship that has the following characteristics:

Vision.  There is something created that focuses an ideal future - a partner. Working together, common purpose. 

Mutuality. It must be two-way. No way around that. Share everything.

Sacrifice.  You're likely to give up something in a partnership. Take a short-term hit for something bigger.

Knowledge. To be a partner requires deep knowledge of the other. Know their business really well.

Long-term. It's too hard, takes too much investment to be otherwise. Think in decades not years.

Benefit. Bottom line stuff. More revenue. More profit. Retention. Growth.  But on the softer side too -  more fun.

Feedback. OK, call it communication but there must be a flow of information on how the partners are doing to evaluate and improve the relationship.

So, partnering is good stuff. Maybe we just need a better word.