A Key To Better Feedback & Relationships

Everything get easier when you care about other people.

That’s it. That’s the secret.

There’s a lot of cliche-sounding advice in the world about how you should show compassion when you give feedback. And about how managing people is easier when you take an interest in others.

It’s not wrong. But it’s a lesson easier won through experience.

If you want to improve the way you interact with other people, you actually have to care about them. You can’t just pretend.

It’s extremely difficult to construct a thought experiment of “What would someone who cares about this person say?” It’s also easy to see through. Contrast that with actually caring about another human being. You don’t have to play games or wonder what someone would say. You’re already equipped to do it.

This may all sound pretty obvious. But it’s not in practice.

Compassion takes practice.

It takes practice because there are appropriate limits. You can’t just be compassionate. You also need to understand when and how to show restraint.

Kim Scott in her book Radical Candor describes this as ruinous empathy. It’s when you’re too nice to someone. Beyond the point of being honest or helpful. She discusses a better alternative, the namesake, radical candor. Which is about…

Another great book on the topic is Kristen Hadeed’s Permission to Screw Up. She institutes a great approach in her business call FBIs. FBI stands for Feeling, Behavior, and Impact. If you want to practice compassion and get your point across with acting like a complete asshole, communicate the specific behavior, how its makes you feel, and the impact is has on your business or relationship.

But like I said, there’s no better teacher than personal experience.

I think to my own experiences. In romantic relationships. In friendships. In professional relationships. As an employee. As a boss.

There were several times in my life when I was much younger where someone I thought was a friend achieved some small amount of success. It made me jealous. I asked myself why and realized we didn’t have much more than a surface level friendship. A little self honestly told me I kept this person around more as someone who motivated me. I didn’t care about the person though. That was a hard truth to swallow.

Contrast that with another friend. Someone who is more like a brother. He had a great job offer on the table and asked me advice. It was easy to give him honest advice, whether it was what he wanted to hear or not. When he landed the job, it was easy to be genuinely excited for him. I valued our friendship. I cared about his success.

I share both examples to show an important contrast.

In the first relationship, everything was transactional. I cared about what that person could offer me. Wrong or not, I didn’t care about the person. In the second, the basis of our friendship was not self-serving. It was about a mutual benefit and enjoyment of being friends. Compassion flowed naturally from it.

The same thing happens in professional relationships, too.

When you’re a manager, it’s easy to get caught up in making sure people "below you" are doing their jobs. But it’s also easy to dehumanize other people when you’re only weighing them by their inputs and outputs. But here’s a secret I’ve learned from observing both great and terrible managers: if you invest in people, they’ll consistently surprise you.

Yes. It sounds cliche. It sounds obvious. But it’s not always.

Sometimes it takes concentrated effort to get past the surface level details. It may mean intentionally being friendlier or trying to become more personable. It may mean you have to become vulnerable and open up.

It’s not always easy. But it’s worth it.

If You Want It, Behave Like It

You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?

Almost every time I've started something new I came face to face with imposter syndrome. When you first start out it's easy to believe you're not good enough.

It's easy to get distracted by the people in your life who inevitably believe you're going through a phase and the new thing won't last. But worse yet, is how easy it is to talk yourself into believing that you're not good enough or not worthy enough to succeed at your new thing.

It happens to the best of us. But only rookies let the doubts erode their self-confidence and conviction.

The more times you start new things and see them through – even the small things – you're incrementally practicing self-discipline. Over time it adds up. It's not exactly easy to start and gain momentum with something new, but a secret is that it gets easier the more you practice it.

In small and big things in your life, your behaviors over time are a better predictor of your outcomes than anything else.

Take writing as an example.

If you say you want to be a writer, for instance, but you're not regularly writing, chances are there's a low likelihood you'll ever actually do it.

On the flip side, if you write every day – even if you don't have some big idea for publishing yet – the sheer act of exercising your writing muscle will set you up for success.

When you first start out you may not know the proper behaviors to move you closer toward your goal (even if you can't yet define it). Don't stress. Just focus on doing one thing each day to move you closer. Anything.

The best way to become something is to start behaving like it.

How Did You Set People Free Today?

How did you set people free today?

It's a small, but powerful daily challenge.

I spend a ton of time thinking about careers. How people discover their careers. How they launch them. The pain points and struggles they face as part of them.

Sometimes it's easy to get sucked into the fray. It's easy to get mad about "the system." But it's all just a distraction.

When I find myself losing focus, getting outraged by the things outside of my control, or bothered by what other people are doing, I go back to this question.

How did you set people free today?

It centers me. It reminds me of a higher calling. Of the purpose I'm striving for with what we're building at Crash. It reminds me that this is about people. It refocuses me.

And it sets me free.

Where You Are Matters As Much As What You Are

Where you are matters.

Look no further than the first rule of real estate: location, location, location.

It's easy to see how a high rise in Manhattan might go for way more than a high rise in Muncie, Indiana.

There's high demand in NY. There are more people. There's more money. There's a higher premium on status.

The same is true for your career.

Where you are matters. 

If you're out panhandling your skills in a market that doesn't need them, you're cheating yourself out of major opportunities.

Find the place that can satisfy the type of work opportunities you want. Go there.

The especially beautiful thing about the world we live in today, though, is that your work isn't limited to physical space. The marvel of the internet is that it offers most anyone the ability to transmute their skills into value for other people all over the world.

So if it's not a question of location for work, does it still matter?

ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY.

Where you are matters. It sets the backdrop of your day to day life. Where you are helps foster (or inhibit) your personal growth.

Think about it in a simple comparison: Are you living near the Dead Sea or in the Amazon Basin?

The former won't support any vegetation. The latter is one of the most dense areas of vegetative growth in the world.

Which one describes where you're at?

If your physical space doesn't support your growth, maybe it's time to move on.

About Mitchell


Mitchell is a cowboy turned startup professional and Director of Marketing @ Crash. He’s a former champion meat grader. Author of Don’t Do Stuff You Hate. Narrator of Why Haven’t You Read This Book? And previously Chief of Staff at Ceterus – where he helped scale a team from 20 to 150 while quadrupling revenue.

He’s radical about creating a better future and helping others do the same. Unsolvable problems and conspiracies are his favorite conversation genres. The keys to his heart – fine Bordeaux and Hemingway novels.

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