As hard as it is to admit, some of the most effective coaching I ever received was when a trusted person told me he needed to stop wasting his time trying to help me because nothing was getting accomplished. It hurt like crazy, but made me dig deep to find the problem and take action. I am still not sure if it was the the comment or the blunt way it was said but it motivated me to fix the problem and accomplish what was to be accomplished. I later thanked him and made sure he knew that his help was indeed valuable.
“Sometimes you must seem to hurt something in order to do good for it.”
― Susan Cooper, The Grey King
While it hurt during the moment, I knew this person had spent months taking time to listen to me and provide feedback. There was no selfish motive in his comments. I decided to listen first and ignore my feelings. After all, there were some very reasonable facts that sparked the comment. Very little had been accomplished at the time. I took time over the following weeks to review the information I had and made some big changes.
The real painful news was that it took over a year to turn the situation around. Just because I listened, it did not make it any easier. The great news is that the changes worked and things got better. Now I decide to view all things from the outside perspective. It is faster and saves time.
C-Store Managers often get negative comments from their employees, customers and even their superiors at times. However, it is important to note that the motivation behind a negative comment is usually not to be insulting rather an expression of true interest in improving your business. Not everyone is great at delivery and C-Store employees can be young where they may not have yet developed the filters they need to be less offensive in their delivery. Try to understand that the underlying reason for the complaint or comment is usually with an intention of making things better. People, by nature, want to be kind or they don’t want to invest the time in your problems at all. The natural tendency is to agree and tell you what you want to hear. Be grateful for them sharing their perspective. Think about when you coach, do you tell who you are coaching what they want to hear or do you tell them what they need to know to improve?
Had the person been polite and said the message with more kindness by simply making polite excuses as to why they would not help going forward, it may not have hit home. I may have believed the problem to have been theirs and not my own. Now, when I have a tough problem and ask for help, I invite tough and honest feedback because this is a lesson that has been learned. So, try even hard to listen and embrace the other person’s perspective, even if it isn’t what you want to hear. Maybe its just what you need.