In one hour I’m going to be walk into a room of people to begin a six week process to help them uncover what’s next for them in their careers. I’m nervous, but I’m also really excited. There’s something really amazing that happens with groups.
When you get a handful of people you trust and start sharing yourself and your story with them, they see who you really are: your passions, your hopes, your difficulties and challenges, and your gifts. And no matter how well we know ourselves, when we begin to hear from them with openness and vulnerability, we learn about ourselves.
There’s a saying that fits here: when someone "can’t see the forest for the trees". Dictionary.com defines this phrase as, "An expression used of someone who is too involved in the details of a problem to look at the situation as a whole…".
This is so true of our identity— particularly when the pressure to make big life decisions is added to the mix. We’re so close to our stuff (both the good and the bad) that we can’t see the whole picture of who we are and the story our lives are telling.
We need others to inform us and our process.
Though you can wait for the chance to be a part of a cohort, you don’t have to.
Here’s how you (yes you!) can take advantage of the insight that others have about who you are, what makes you come alive, what makes you come alive, etc.
A Simple Way to Find Your Passions
Here it is:
I know. That’s a bit over simplified, but it’s also true. You don’t have to wait to join a cohort or do vocational direction sessions to tap into the amazing resource of your community.
This is something I often do as part of my one-on-one sessions. It can be very clarifying to understand that impact that you have on the people around you.
While it is helpful to have someone guide the process, it’s not essential.
I’d like to offer you step-by-step instructions and an email template that you can download and put into action right away.
How To Do Personal 360-Degree Feedback Interviews
Asking for feedback from people is part of a process known as 360-Degree Feedback. The name comes from the idea that you’re looking for feedback from people in all areas of your life.
At one time in the business world feedback was only given one direction: from top down. 360-degree feedback began as a novel concept because it looked for growth opportunities from all directions, not just boss-to-employee.
Here’s step by step guidance on conducting your own, or you can download this as a guide along with a copy and paste email script to help you get the ball rolling.
1) Set Proper Expectations for Yourself
Before you ask others to give you feedback, make sure you are in a good place to accept what they say.
Hopefully you will hear both positive and negative truths about yourself. Make sure that you’re ready to hear some challenging things before you jump in.
It’s also important to know that the opinions of others are only their opinions. They usually contain some truth, but they also contain a mix of their story and limited perception.
Open yourself to those you can trust, but also don’t put too much of your self-worth or self-perception in a single person’s hands,
2) Ask for the Right Things and Set Boundaries
As you reach out to people and ask for feedback, give some guidelines what kinds of things you’re looking for. This is helpful for both you and them. They are going to want help knowing what you’re looking for, and you’re going to want to tell them what you’re not interested in hearing.
Some guidelines I’d recommend including are:
- Trust your gut. I want to hear what you have to say.
- If you don’t think I can handle it, tell me that— it’s important for me to know.
- No advice. I’m hoping to hear from you about who I am, not what I should do.
- I’m taking everything you say with a grain of salt. This is an experiment. If something doesn’t sit well with me, I’ll follow up with you to gain some clarity.
3) Ask Good People
Don’t just ask your close friends for feedback, ask others too. Business partners. Bosses. Neighbors. The barista at your favorite coffee shop. Your ex-whatever (boyfriend, boss, friend, etc).
Spread the net wide, but also keep in mind who you might feel unsafe asking. Because you don’t have someone in the process with you to serve as a buffer (which I often do with clients), you need to play that roll for yourself.
If someone doesn’t feel safe to you, don’t ask them.
4) Ask Good Questions
There aren’t wrong questions to ask, necessarily, but make sure to ask questions that give people an opportunity to speak to what you’re looking to hear.
Some possible questions to ask:
- When have you seen me most alive?
- What are the greatest parts of my personality? When have you seen me use them well?
- What are the difficult parts of my personality? When have you seen me struggle with them?
- What are one or two things that you wish I would allow to be true about me?
- What am I an expert in?
- What would you come to me to talk about?
- What wouldn’t you want to talk to me about?
5) Look for themes
Once you receive feedback, spend some time going through it and look for themes among the different responses. When you hear something from one person, it has less value than if you hear it from a few people.
After you do your review, let us know what you learn in the comments.