Ever been called high maintenance?
Ever received bad feedback at work or personally?
I’m single, looking for an LTR* and so on a dating app.
I was messaging with a man through the app about his invite to meet up.
I replied proposing a time and location for meeting up and asked if that worked for him.
He replied that I was a “Princess” and “high maintenance.”
That’s the response I got for replying in the affirmative to his suggestion.
So many reactions:
• I was bewildered and confused.
• When I told a friend, she said “You are a Princess and deserve to be treated as such. He is not your Prince”
• My friend’s husband said, “Give me his number and I’ll tell him how to behave”
• And then a friend sent me the meme below
There are 4 Emotional Intelligence angles for this situation. I’ve shared the last 3 on separate posts on LinkedIn and the first being a new perspective.
Where to Give and Receive Feedback
Like a good photograph you want your subject to appear in their best light, to look good. And you as the photographer want to have your work well-regarded. Same for giving any type of feedback, you want the subject or recipient to look good and for you to be perceived well or credible.
In my dating interaction above, I didn’t look good and he didn’t look credible or come off well.
He gave feedback to me in the form of labels, at an “identity” level – with a label of You are A Princess, You’re High Maintenance.
This type of feedback helps no one – the recipient often feels defensive or helpless to understand or change; the giver appears mean, imprecise, or judgemental.
- Give feedback at the outer 3 levels of this bullseye below – focusing on behaviour. Be specific about the behaviour (good or bad) that you want to comment on – what specifically did the person do or say. Environmental comments are about where or when someone did something that impacted their effectiveness (positive or negative). Capability is about how they did something and often can be helped with training.
This bullseye mitigates the likelihood that someone will take the feedback “personally” as it focuses on environment, behaviour and capability rather than identity and values. This is about a team member’s effectiveness of doing the job. If you give feedback about someone’s identity that is personal. It’s why parenting experts advise to tell a child “that behaviour was bad” rather than “you are bad or bad boy.”
Where to Give Feedback
Of note, this bullseye can be used for giving and receiving feedback. If you receive feedback that’s towards the middle of the bullseye ask, “what did I say or do that made you feel that way?” Or, depending on who’s giving you the feedback at an identity level, be confident in who you are and your value potentially choosing to ignore the feedback.
Don’t Take Things Personally
My potential date’s response was not about me. He didn’t know my intention. He doesn’t know me beyond some messaging.
To not take something personally, one has to see that his response says more about him than me.
Maybe he didn’t like someone dictating time and location to him. Maybe he thought I was shoehorning him into my availability. Maybe he wants to be in control or take the lead and I went a step too far.
So I didn’t take it personally.
According to the book, The Four Agreements, of which Don’t Take It personally is 1 of the 4 agreements, any criticism of me is not about me. It’s about the giver.
It goes on to say, any compliment of me is not about me either.
That feels harder to accept.
Except we can’t dismiss the bad and take the good.
Of note, criticism is different than proper feedback delivered with clean language focused on behaviours.
That potential suitor clearly had the perspective that I was high maintenance and a Princess.
I had the perspective that he was low effort and not my Prince.
This is often the case in many interpersonal relationships – we each have our own perspectives which are often different.
This matters when you are working together as it can create conflict or at a minimum, confusion.
If we don’t have a common understanding of a topic, challenge or issue we might be working at cross purposes.
People often assume that their understanding of something is everyone’s understanding of that thing.
We know people literally see things differently (remember that blue/gold dress image that went around social media years ago? Many swore it was gold, others that is was blue).
Great solutions come from differing perspectives. This is the whole advantage of diversity.
The learning is not to be unconscious of perspective, nor entrenched in your own perspective nor fight for it at all cost.
The learnings are to:
• realize we all have our own perspectives,
• surface those differing points of view,
• create common understanding and alignment,
• craft richness of thought and idea generation,
• establish common ground to move forward.
Clean Language For Giving Feedback.
The comment of “Princess” or “High Maintenance” is not clean language.
It’s an opinion, evaluation or judgement of me.
My use of the term clean language, derived from Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg, is about separating out observations, feelings, needs and requests.
The cleaner our language when talking to another person, the more likely they are to hear what we are saying. The less likely they are to get defensive or withdraw.
When I received this reply on the dating app my first response was Screw You! And it might not have even been that nice 😉
Then it was “I’m not a Princess” because I have my own baggage around that term.
It took a little while for me to get to the interpretation and understanding I’ve been sharing here these last few weeks.
If he had said the following I would probably have maintained contact with him:
When you suggest such a specific time and location for meeting, it makes me wonder if you have time and space in your life for a boyfriend. Do you?
Because he just reacted, and name-called, I didn’t know what he was feeling or thinking. And I admit, I didn’t want to make the effort to learn.
If his first inclination is to judge me that’s probably what he’d do if we were in a relationship.
Clean language is especially important when giving feedback.
People need clear, tangible feedback so they know specifically what they do well and what they could improve.
Saying someone is “rude or egotistical” is an opinion or judgement.
There’s nothing helpful that the person can grab on to and learn from.
Saying “when you talk over people during a meeting” that is a tangible action or behaviour of the individual that they can understand and improve. You still might think they are rude and that’s not helpful to evoke change.
This clean language about actions or behaviours when giving feedback is the ‘O’ step of the COIN feedback model. See link in comments below for the whole template on how to give positive and constructive feedback.
If you want to motivate and inspire your teams, give great feedback so they develop more, or feel less frustrated by people, get in touch for a no-obligation conversation by hitting the button below to set up a call.
What are your feedback disaster stories? What are your dating disaster stories?
What feedback do you need help giving?
What feedback have you gotten that’s helped you
* LTR = Long-term Relationship