Giving: Not Always Blessed

by Linda Henman, Ph.D

Sometimes I’d rather not receive—unsolicited feedback. More often than not, the feedback has more to do with the needs of the sender than any benefit to the receiver. And I just find it annoying.

Recently I gave a speech to a room full of executives. The audience received the message well, and, when I walked off the stage, I met a line of people who wanted to congratulate me and ask me to autograph their copies of my book. A professional speaker can ask for nothing more!

Invariably, one person in the line has to do it: “I really enjoyed your speech, but….” In this case she wanted to let me know that I could improve if I would include examples about female leaders. I choose the examples I use carefully, and trust me, arbitrarily including examples of women, in this case, would not have improved the speech.

I also send out monthly newsletters. Many of readers realize I frequently repurpose my writing—sort of a regifting in a professional and more appealing sense—so if they contain errors of fact of typing, I appreciate an email that points that out.

One reader recently informed me that I’m as sick as the person I had quoted in the newsletter. Now that’s helpful! I’ll seek out a therapist.

Bosses have an obligation to give solicited and unsolicited feedback to their direct reports. The nicest gift any boss could give this year would be a commitment to give more balanced feedback in the new year.  It’s the only way a direct report can know how to improve, and most bosses simply don’t give enough of it.

If I have lipstick on my teeth, please give me the universal sign for that—the index finger swiping horizontally across your exposed lip gesture. Similarly, if I have inadvertently tucked my skirt into my pantyhose—again—please tell me that.

But if you can think of a “gotcha” about something I’ve created, or several improvement opportunities about it have occurred to you, please consider giving to a charity instead. Now, that’s blessed.

If you found these tips from Linda Henman, Ph.D. of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at


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