The most successful businesses make it a regular part of conducting business by asking their customers and suppliers for feedback. They want to know how they can improve both their products and services. They want their customers to find it a pleasure to work with them. They have a goal of ‘delighting’ their customers. The only way they can do this is by asking for direct input. The encourage complaints.
You should do this too. Ask your friends for feedback about you. Are you boastful? Are you fun? Are you shy? Are you easy to get along with? This isn’t about finding our flaws or bashing your ego. This is getting a good look at who you are. I’ve already discussed taking your inventory to get a better look at yourself. Now, it’s time to bring in others to help you.
You can do this informally or formally. You can ask your friends to let you know what your three greatest strengths are and what your three greatest weaknesses are. You can ask them what they like most about you, or least about you. You can ask them open-ended questions and let them give you as many or as few attributes as they like. Ask them if they could change one thing about you, what would it be.
The point here is not to hurt your ego or put you down. The point is to see how others see you. You may not even be aware of what you’re doing. And you can’t change your behavior until you become aware of it first. Maybe you like what you hear and don’t want to change certain things about you – and that’s fine. But at least you know. Maybe you won’t hear any surprises from your friends. But maybe you will. And once you become aware of the messages you are sending off, you can decide if those are the messages that will attract the kind of person you want.
I just ran into a co-worker in the break room. I said, “Why are you scowling?”
She said, “Was I scowling? I didn’t mean to!” She wasn’t even aware of how she looked, which makes sense. I’ve had similar comments made to me. We can’t see our own expressions, so maybe we’re not projecting how we feel. There is only one way to find out. Ask.
This takes some guts. This is not an easy step. However, just like the most successful businesses that encourage feedback, it is well worth it.