What do Louboutin shoes have to do with feedback? You’ll understand in a moment …
Have you ever received horrible feedback? Maybe it was earned. Maybe it was something that you actually did do incorrectly, some sort of an oversight on your part. Maybe the comments you received were offered in the spirit of constructive suggestion and meant to improve the quality of your project or stretch you to grow.
I’m not talking about that type of feedback.
I’m talking about the mean-spirited, uncalled for, personal attacks.
You know the ones I mean–comments that are not intended to help but to hurt, or unintended to do so and relayed through thoughtless and oblivious people who don’t have the communication savvy to consider the impact of their words.
These remarks sting and sometimes burn so badly, they leave a scar for days, week, years, or in some cases, a lifetime.
Sometimes this input is unsolicited. Other times, you may ask for feedback and this person takes this as an opportunity to go for your jugular, and to unleash every frustration he or she has with you or the world. They do the “verbal vitriol vomit” all over you. Sure, it may feel good for them to purge themselves of such black hatred, but it leaves you feeling dumped on and with the mess to clean up.
Have you ever had a situation like this happen to you?
Someone riles up against you and says things that go to your very core. Their words bore into your soul and haunt you. They make you question your competence. They shatter your confidence. They shake you to the point you wonder if you’re in the right field or job, or if you should just pack it all in. You find yourself second guessing your confidence, the way you look and act, and your performance.
I understand because I’ve been there too.
Years ago, I received some feedback from a session participant that was so extreme, I knew it was an aberration and best to be ignored, but I hadn’t yet learned how to let it go (PS: I’m still learning that one). Of the 60-plus attendees at this Association conference break-out session, 99% offered great ratings and useful suggestions. Then this one person had nothing good to say. While everyone else rated the session a 9 or 10, this negatory rated it a “1” and offered no constructive suggestion for improvement. Ouch!
The rating was so extreme and negative, it made me question myself.
Have you ever felt like that, in a situation where you forget the 99% positive comments and focus on the 1% negative? You wonder if there’s some truth in the attack. Maybe they’re right? You start to question your everything. You forget the 99 people who loved your contribution and found great value in it. This one negative comment shakes your foundation and everything you thought you knew and were. This person’s comment pushes some unknown button inside you and releases a flurry of your insecurities.
You need something to build you up again. But what?
A few weeks later, in an unrelated event, something struck me that changed my paradigm about how to interpret caustic feedback. It happened at a live presentation by the “Long Island Medium” (remember that show?) when she was in Buffalo, New York. In the iconic Shea’s Theater filled to 3000-person capacity, the lights dimmed, the stage screen lowered and then, a backlight projected the unmistakable silhouette of that teased hair, long-nailed, stiletto-wearing powerhouse, Theresa Caputo. When the screen raised and we saw her on stage, the thing I noticed the most was her striking crystal-studded Louboutin open-toed stilettos.
That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks. YOU are like an amazing pair of Louboutin shoes!
YOU are the beautiful, unique, desired Louboutin shoe, valued by many. You are special and to be treasured. You offer both tangible and intangible gifts to those around you. You make heads turn and, and even though some may not know your value, many others do.
Here’s the analogy. Imagine yourself in a Christian Louboutin shoe store. You see an incredible pair of crystal, peek-a-boo stilettos. You dare to peek and discover that the price is a cool $5,000. You are taken by the shoes and ask to try them on. When you do, your feet melt perfectly into the crystal slippers. You remark to the clerk, “Wow, these feel great and look beautiful. They’re higher than I’m used to wearing, so they stretch me past my comfort zone, which makes me feel a little uneasy. I know I’ll get used to them the more I wear them and use them. And boy do they meet my needs. They’re exactly what I’ve been looking and hoping for”.
Now here’s the question: How much are the shoes worth?
This isn’t a trick question. You just looked at the price tag. You know the answer. They’re worth $5,000. You step away to think about the purchase for a moment and in walks another customer.
This new customer notices the exact same pair of shoes you’ve been admiring. A service rep greets the woman and asks if she’d like to try them on, so she does. When she squeezes her size 9s into the display model size 7, she winces with pain and exclaims, “These shoes are horrible! They’re not at all what I expected. I have no idea why anyone would even buy them. They’re so painful, I can’t walk or do anything I thought I would with them. They don’t work or help me at all. They’re absolutely awful! I would never buy them or recommend them.”
In a flourish of disgust, she rips off the shoes, practically throwing them at the clerk. Without asking to try on the proper size or telling the clerk what she really needs, this client marches out of the store, disappointed, angry, and besmirching the good name and reputation of the shoe.
Now, let’s ask that question again: How much are the shoes worth?
Again, this isn’t a trick question. The answer is right on the price tag. The opinion of this second customer didn’t change anything about the shoes. They are exactly the same as they always were. They are still as beautiful and gorgeous as ever, and they are still worth $5,000. This other customer didn’t like them and didn’t appreciate their worth because it was a question of FIT. The fact that the shoes didn’t fit this particular person didn’t change the VALUE of the shoe. Not at all. They’re still worth every penny they always were.
POINT: when someone doesn’t value what you offer, it doesn’t devalue YOU.
People make bad decisions. Sometimes they expect you to be something you’re not, or they want something you’re not in a position to deliver. You may advise them of this, yet they still choose to pursue it. This doesn’t devalue you or your contribution simply because you don’t meet the needs or expectations of one. Quite to the contrary. It makes you even more valuable for those of good fit.
It’s just a question of FIT
Ferret out those who “fit” what you have to offer and recognize your value, who value your contribution.
As a work professional, you get comments every day from your colleagues, clients, boss, and employees. They offer their two cents on your work, how you communicate, your productivity, how you appear and behave, and your people skills. Next time you receive caustic, toxic and personal comments meant to hinder versus help, think about those Louboutin shoes, their unique red soles, and remember how they may not be right for everyone, but are treasured by those they FIT,
YOU have unique and valuable gifts and talents to share.
Now, go seek out those who appreciate your sparkle. And don’t let anyone devalue your gifts just because they don’t fit what you have to offer, who you are, and what you represent. You still are valuable. Shine on.The world needs your light.
PS: Thank YOU for being part of my tribe. Clients often tell me how they appreciate my perspectives and communication strategies, and when they do, it confirms that they are the right “fit” for MarionSpeaks :). Please post your comment below, I’d love to hear from you
Copyright MarionSpeaks, originally published April 1, 2015, updated August 11, 2020
©2021 Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Until next time, here’s to …
Better communication, Better business, Better life,
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
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