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Opening Gifts

| January 7, 2014

by Jim Bruce

Today’s Tuesday Reading is “Opening Gifts.”  This essay’s author is Roger Schwarz, CEO of Roger Schwartz and Associates and it recently appeared in his blog.

Schwarz begins by noting that we receive a lot of intangible gifts from those we work with.  They are often not always wrapped in lovely wrapping paper with beautiful bows.  And, whether nicely presented of not, too often we dismiss them without a second thought or any curiosity.

What I’m talking about are the gifts of feedback we regularly receive.  If the feedback is neatly packaged as a compliment, we may pay attention to the compliment and miss, or don’t look for, the feedback.  If it’s wrapped in a criticism, more than likely we miss it entirely or dismiss it because of the packaging.

Schwarz says it this way:  “Effective leaders open any gift that is offered, regardless of the wrapping, to learn what they do that is working or not working for others on their team.”

If, he urges, you are complemented – “That was a great presentation.” – you go beyond chis “wrapping” and open the box to learn more.  You might say, “Thanks.  I’m interested in knowing what you think made it great?  I want to make sure I continue doing it.”  In other words, don’t be satisfied with the beautiful wrapping, be curious and brave enough to find out what’s in the box.

Similarly, just because the gift is badly wrapped, it’s often unaccepted, ignored.  Yet, these gifts are often some of the most valuable you can receive.  You accept the gift by exploring “what’s in the box.”  This is a time for respect – the individual spoke up rather than remain silent – and curiosity – what’s it all about.  Doing so creates opportunities for mutual learning.  You might say something like, “I’m not sure I see it that way.  Can you help me understand…?”

Schwarz closes his essay: “Open the gifts you receive, however they are wrapped, and respond in ways that create better working relationships.”  

I think that this is sound advice that each of us should put into practice, like today.

I trust that the coming year will be one in which you will continue to expand your leadership repertoire.  Happy New Year!  

.  .  .  .  .    jim