A few years ago I got tough anonymous feedback in a year-end performance review by someone. On investigation, I silently hated that person for about two years even though he was my partner in crime. After two years, the feedback turned out to be from a different person. I kept my full hatred towards the second person for other two years.  

Telling you that story just to prove that I was not a big fan of tough feedback. I hated it! 

Until one day I woke up with boredom – the emotion I am scared the most. It brings me nothing but the emptiness of passion, fulfillment and satisfaction. It took me a few weeks to come to an entirely new realization that I have hit a plateau on my mastery journey and the remedy for it is tough feedback in order to facilitate my growth. 

Ironically that is the remedy I usually gave to many of my senior clients who believed they had no room for further growth. We never know our blind spots, don’t we?

Immediately, I reached out to my close friends, seeking their tough feedback and they make me energized again though some of them still hurt. In my life, I have never imagined one day I appreciate tough feedback that much. 

Therefore, if you wake up every morning with boredom, ask yourself if you need tough feedback to gain back your energy. Remember to seek for opinions of those you trust and those who truly care about you but dare to break your heart. 

Another implication for leaders who are a big fan of tough feedback:

It is always good to facilitate growth when your employees have reached their plateau on their mastery journey. However, ensure you understand the intensity level which they can endure, otherwise, you’ll make them collapse with resentment and hatred – sometimes it takes years as in my case :). 

The most positive spectrum you can consider is 5 positive : 1 negative feedback in ‘How full is your bucket’ by Tom Rath and ‘Feedforward’ by Marshall Goldsmith. You can adjust from there. I trust your sharp observations and understanding of your team members. 

Enjoy reading and I appreciate your tough feedback on my post too! 

Written by Thao Pham

ICF Professional Certified Coach