InterviewLast week I was asked by the New York Times to submit a draft of an Op-Ed piece on The Politics of Promotion. Needless to say, I was honored and worked diligently for two and a half days to complete an article I thought worthy of submission.

In my quest for perfection, I reached out to a couple of trusted friends and colleagues for feedback. After all, you can only read and re-read your own writing so many times before you lose sight of the significance.

What I noticed first of all is that though I asked for feedback, what I really wanted was validation. Because when I got the feedback, I was not ready to hear it. I said to myself, “Can’t you just tell me it’s terrific?” My need for approval put up a wall to hearing constructive criticism that would eventually improve the strength of my thesis.

Once I let my defensive wall down, I listened intently to the feedback. Some of it, I dismissed immediately. But some comments were insightful and resulted in the realization that I spend too much of my time in my own space; women’s advancement issues. So much of my time, energy, and passion is focused on this topic that I don’t recognize that not everyone is aware of the same issues and information. For instance, many people (probably most of the population for that matter) have no idea what second generation gender bias is. Most people don’t have a clue that there is a business case for having more women in leadership positions in business.

It took feedback from people outside of my space to help me realize that when speaking to a broader audience I need to educate and clarify.

The point I want to make in this blog is that we often get so caught up in our “stuff” that we assume everyone thinks and behaves as we do. When we have a network of like-minded colleagues and clients with whom we share information, we can lose sight of what other people know outside our immediate circle. It helps to have a diverse network to give you different points of view and of course, valuable feedback.

Constructive feedback is a gift. It allows you to expand your knowledge, your communication, and your influence. The most valuable feedback requires openness and vulnerability of the giver and the receiver.