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27th April 2007
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When strengths become weaknesses, and vice versa

...human nature being what it is, clients will often focus on the negative feedback and miss the positives

I gave a client a coffee the other day. I know she takes sugar, so I had put some in already. However she didn’t realise this, so she added some more. The first I knew about this simple mistake was when she grimaced and put the cup down rather hurriedly. You see, even though we may like something in small amounts, it can be unpleasant when it’s overdone. And that’s a valuable lesson to learn in personal branding.

My personal branding work typically starts with a 360 evaluation. and for some clients this can be a real eye opener. There’s nothing like getting open, honest and anonymous feedback from your peers, clients, even competitors, to see what your real strengths are.

Unfortunately, there will also be words in there that can seem negative, and human nature being what it is, clients will often focus on the negative feedback and miss the positives.

Now, if this happens to you, the first thing is to remind  yourself that (at least in the case of the 360 assessments I use with clients) you will have chosen who you asked, and so these are likely to be people who you like, trust and respect enough to ask for feedback (otherwise, why ask them?). And similarly, they probably like, trust and respect you enough to give you feedback which is intended to help you grow. They are not out to put you down.

With this in mind, look at your strengths and ask yourself "which of these strengths, if it was taken to extremes, would look like the negative that people have fed back to me?" I’ll give you an example from my own 360. Some respondents described me as impatient, always busy and taking on too much. However a lot of respondents used words like ‘dynamic’ ‘energetic’ ‘ambitious’ ‘enthusiastic’. Now, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that in some circumstances those same qualities could look like impatience, or taking on too much. Similarly, one person saw my open-mindedness, tolerance and balance as a lack of a personal point of view.

So the next time someone feeds back a weakness, remember to look for the underlying strength.

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