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Copyright © 2002 by Joe Freeman. All rights reserved.
Can You Take It?
We all would like to think that we have good manners, that we treat everyone with the right amount of respect and dignity. But what we don’t see is how we are perceived by others. The actions we believe to be true and honest could easily be perceived by others as an attack, arbitrary or even vicious. The behavior we believe to be open and honest is not always what others see in us.
Can you take honest , open feedback about yourself? Can you listen to someone tell you that your behavior could be improved? The only way to know how others perceive our behavior is to ask someone we trust. But the person we ask must be someone who is willing to take a risk and be honest with you, because as Somerset Maugham once said, ‘People ask for criticism, but they only want praise’. You need to be sure the person you asking to critique your behavior understands that you want honest, open feedback. They need to be very clear that you not looking for justification of your behavior, or praise.

To break the ice and get the session going, ask your friend(s) to answer the following questions:

- What are some of the things I am doing that I should continue to do or do more of?

- What are some of the things I should stop doing or do less of?

If you have taken the steps above and asked for feedback, you should now ‘praise yourself’ for having taken the risk of opening yourself up for criticism. But what are you going to do with information? If you are like most people, you will be able to rationalize why you behaved the way you did in each circumstance that was presented in the feedback session.

Honest criticism is hard to take,
 particularly from a relative,
 a friend, an acquaintance,
 or a stranger.
He only profits from praise
who values criticism.
We improve ourselves by victories over our self.
There must be contests, and you must win.
Edward Gibbon (1737 - 1794)
- Joe Freeman
The Web Sage