I was talking with a colleague last week, and I made a comment about wanting to overcome sheer fear when giving feedback. Then I started laughing because in my mind, the word “sheer” was spelled “shear.”
“Shear fear” is NOT about hair cutting or counseling! It’s about the cutting away of indirect conversation in order to deliver what’s most needed. It’s about being willing to speak up, give direct feedback and say what needs to be said for the benefit of the person receiving it.
Thinking about this, a perfect (or maybe an imperfect) example comes to mind with someone I was coaching. Something didn’t seem right about our conversations, but I couldn’t figure out what. Usually I’m willing to mention what’s going on even if I can’t quite figure it out, but with this person, I hadn’t brought up the subject. I was being indirect. I had succumbed to “shear fear.”
Then one morning, while getting ready for the day (read: while in the shower!), I realized that I was NOT serving him and determined to talk with him about it. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. When we connected in the afternoon for our scheduled coaching call, he let me know he had been fired that morning.
Since that day, I’ve often wondered if I had spoken up sooner, if that would have helped him keep his job. Obviously, we’ll never know. But, I made a decision that day that has been a guiding principle. When I’m feeling fear, even shear fear, I intend to cut away the indirect communication and deliver what needs to be said.
How about you? What indirect conversations will you cut away, overcome your shear fear and be in service to those with whom you work?