Thursday, March 06, 2008

Courage Under Fire

The familiar tone of voice: "Kate." It's a little low, a little drawn out, and there's a definite negative tinge to it.

This was a recurring dread in my childhood. I was always in trouble. Big things (fighting in school), little things (taking my sister's sweater without asking), stupid things (not putting my shoes away after being asked to more than once).

Sure, in the end, I turned out fine, and my parents can breathe a sigh of relief that although I turned out to be a Democrat, I do write my thank you notes, ask before I borrow things, and play well with others. But because of my long history as a trouble maker, I tend to cringe when I hear someone say, "Let's talk about this." I know it's constructive criticism to help me do my job better, but there's that innate voice that says, "Quick! You're in trouble! Make up an excuse!"

Since I started my career I have always known that it's better to find out you're doing something wrong than to let a mistake fester. And yet, when one of my emails to my boss with a report on a project was replied to with "Drop by and let's go over this in my office," my inner self had to repress the panic.

Do not be scared by this, I told myself. And I spent the morning working on that project, cleaning it up, marking down specific points to discuss, and preparing for the meeting. And it went well--there was no reason to panic. We went over the numbers, and some of the problems I had related to my inexperience on this task; some of the problem was that I didn't have access to all of the information I needed. And I made sure to ask at the end if I had done well enough. Since at my last job, feedback was non-existent until my unexpected "performance review," I make it a priority to talk to my boss about my performance. And according to her, I'm doing fine.

I have my corrections to make, instructions to follow, and a better understanding of the project. There was really nothing to be scared of. So I'm going back to fix the project, and hopefully, the next time I hear "Let's Talk," the imaginary panic monster will stay hidden under the bed.

1 responses:

Ian Selvarajah said...

Ha ha! I know the feeling!! I knew I was in trouble when my old boss used to say: "Ian, can I speak to you in my office for a minute?". It was like going to the principal's office in high school...(I was also always in trouble!)

Asking for feedback from people who are older and smarter than you is always a good thing. A lot of people say GenY has grown up on constant praise from our parents, so it's good to get a "reality check" from a somewhat objective 3rd party every once in a while!


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