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Myth Busting

J: Welcome to Slingshot25’s Shotcast, a series of bite-sized podcasts that will feel like an espresso shot to your brain. I’m Jackie. 

C: And I’m Courtney. 

J: Something we’ve been thinking about is, well, frankly, we’re kind of in the myth-busting mood today. Aren’t we, Courtney? So what myth are we going to bust today?

C: Uh, well, I think we’re going to talk about what your problem is. 

J: That will not fit in the very limited amount of time that we have for this shot cast. Very limited. But it is very much related to the myth that we want to bust, which is this idea of when you are giving feedback to someone or having a performance conversation with someone that you should focus on the performance or the problem and not the person. Have you heard that? Have you heard that one before, Courtney? 

C: It’s not personal. 

J: It’s just business. Oh, it’s not personal. It’s just business. We hear that all the time, don’t we? 

C: Like I was reminded of the movie, You’ve Got Mail. So I don’t know how many of our listeners are that old, but there’s a scene where she says, but my business is personal.

J: Yeah. And she’s right. She’s up to, she is Meg Ryan. She’s Meg Ryan. It’s a good movie. It’s back in the days when people communicated via email. Yeah. So I think, let that sink in for 

C: a minute. I know. Do you want to do the sound? Do the sound. Do the sound. 

J: The dial up sound? No, I’m going to spare our viewers of my imitation. 

C: You all do it in your own heads right now. It’s terrible. So if people believe things, it’s always interesting, I think, to say, well, why do we believe that? Yeah. Right. So if we say, “You have a problem and it’s not personal”. And why do we want to solve for these things? I think it really starts because we want all problems to be very cut and dry and compartmentalized and not tied to people.

And I think our, our LEAN background in our operation mindset, like let’s just drill in and pin in and take it all apart and ask how many why’s to get to the root of it. And once we fix that, it’ll fix everything else. And that’s aspirational. I think it’s kind of heroic. I think it feels good to believe that can work. But we know that it only really works on what we call complicated problems.

It works in math and it works in science and it works in all the hard sciences, but it doesn’t work with people.

J: That’s right. And I think another thing that’s in this that we maybe don’t give enough thought to is that I think sometimes we like to believe this story that when we’re talking to someone about their performance, that if we tell ourselves the story of oh, this isn’t personal. It’s just, “I just want to talk about your performance. I just want to talk about the thing you did or the problem you’re trying to solve and you didn’t quite solve it yet.” 

If I say “this isn’t personal, it’s just business”, or “It’s not personal, we’re gonna just talk about this problem” that it somehow gives me carte blanche to not have to recognize that it actually is personal for you.

And so our advice to leaders in this myth busting episode is to remember that it actually is always personal. But that’s okay because the better thing is to actually decide how to have that conversation and take care of the personal stuff. And this is then, of course, where things like empathy come in and curiosity and believing in the other person and some humility. You don’t have to have all the answers and you can be here to support and you can show that you care about someone when you’re doing this because as much as we’d like to say, don’t take stuff personally, this isn’t personal. It’s just about the problem or the business. We can say that all day long, but it doesn’t make it true.

C: No. And there’s a certain amount of irony that we think we say that because it’s easier on us that we don’t because deep down, none of us want to hurt other people. And I think there is a certain amount of irony that when we say it’s not personal and we go carte blanche that we actually end up hurting them more because we don’t see them and we don’t create space to acknowledge and validate those awkward feelings that come up. All the stuff we’re trying to avoid just by putting a box around it and not looking at it doesn’t take it away.

J: That’s right. That’s absolutely right. So the other thing that I will say though, and it will make us sound like we’re talking out of both sides of our mouth, which is when you’re receiving feedback, we encourage you to try not to take it personally. Ironically. But that’s hard to do. It takes real work. But I think it’s also worth reminding ourselves and when we’re receiving feedback, try to stay out of this place of it’s an indictment of me personally to my core. That I am not worthy. I am not enough. 

So both of those things can be true, but I think ultimately, because we love talking to leaders about how to be great leaders, I encourage you to remember that it is personal, but go ahead and deal with the personal. That’s not about sugarcoating. It’s not about coddling. It is about empathy, acknowledging and validating. You can say hard things and you can still say, I care about you and I see you and I know we can do this together. 

Alright, I think that’s it. Courtney, did you have anything else you want to add on that? 

C: No, let’s wrap it up. 

J: Okay, then. I guess that’s all for this episode of our Shotcast, but we always have much more to say. If you want more, drop us a line at Until next time.

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