I don’t think I’m only one who lives in fear of disappointing others. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that my fear of disappointing others has led on a number of occasions to bad decisions, overwork, and ultimate (yes) disappointment. (Yes, I said eventual disappointment. Turns out that when you try to avoid disappointment you often end up with it anyway!)
And yet, it seems I have trouble learning this lesson, and every time I am faced with the choice of disappointing someone else or rolling the dice and potentially ending up with one of the above negative eventualities, I often opt for the latter. In essence, I’ll do anything to disappoint others. To the point of sheer stupidity and bad business practice.
Last week, I wrote a post over on my LinkedIn Influencer blog about how I’m trying to grow up.
And by that I mean: I’m trying to learn to disappoint — even when I feel badly when doing so.
As my example in that article, I told a recent story of someone sending me a book about blogging and hoping for an endorsement in the process. I agreed to read it, but didn’t love it, and was faced with one of two choices:
- Explain to the author that I kindly was not able to support this particular book, but wish him the best.
- Avoid conflict by sharing the book anyway, crafting an innocuous statement that didn’t betray my true feelings.
Trying to be bolder in inviting the disappointment of others (when it’s the right thing to do), I opted for #1. And he didn’t like it one bit. He was angry. And offended. And I realized that this particular author believed that sending me a free copy was an assurance of an endorsement.
And at the end of the day, I was a sad.
Here was someone I liked and respected as a professional. I had no interest in souring our amicable relationship, and found myself wishing none of it had ever happened. But it did. And, at the end of the day, I think I did the right thing.
Even if it made me feel sad at the end of the day.
Have you had to deliver some not-so-great news lately? How’d it go? Have you found the secret to telling the truth in business without letting others down?