By Steve Moran

I love my friend Denise Boudreau but oftentimes hate being around her. Someone will ask my opinion about something, I will give it bluntly, and she will remind me that I could use some charm school lessons. And she might be right!

From Time to Time …

Recently I was with someone who was part of an organization that was working with us to accelerate their growth in the senior living sector. I watched them do an elevator pitch to a potential new prospect. I thought it was terrible — that it did him and his company a huge disservice.

After the interaction he asked what I thought. I offered a blunt — maybe too blunt — assessment, along with some ideas on how to make it a lot better. Shortly after that, they quit working with us. Maybe I do need charm school.

Except that I am 100% sure that person did not even turn into a prospect, let alone a customer. I delivered my assessment not because I wanted to hurt him but because I wanted to help.

Getting Better

Our ability to get better largely depends on two things that are closely coupled. The first is to be comfortable being uncomfortable (another article on this single topic is coming), and the second is to be able to absorb criticism, learn from it, and grow.

Not all criticism is equal, and not all criticism is correct.

As a writer, I will from time to time get a message from a reader that is critical of something I wrote. When I get those messages, my starting position is that the person took the time to disagree because they want to help me be better.

This allows me to start with an open mind that there is something for me to learn, and that is almost always true even if I still disagree.

Harder But Better

I hear from a lot of senior living leaders who want to say things to their boss but don’t because they know their bosses don’t want to hear it. And yet if the boss were more open to criticism, their operations would be better, and while in the short-run the criticism might hurt, in the long run they will do a better job and have a happier life.

So …

If you have ever read something I wrote or watched a video I am a part of and thought, “Steve’s full of cr**,” I would love to hear about it from you. Either in the comments or privately. I promise:

  • I will listen to what you have to say.
  • I will consider it.
  • I won’t necessarily agree with it.
  • I will assume that you told me that because you’re trying to be helpful to me.

And if I have been critical of you and upset you, it’s because I’m trying to help you, not because I’m trying to hurt you.