Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of the Science and Success blog and also blogger for the Harvard Business Review, shares the results of three or four decades of research that say that our own ratings of our personality traits, like open-mindedness, thoughtfulness, and impulsivity, are correlated at only about forty percent, on average, with other people’s views of us. What’s more, other people on average see us more clearly.
Along similar lines, Seth Godin, marketing guru who has sometimes been described as a great advisor for people whose work is, in fact, excellent but not such a good advisor for people whose work is, in fact, mediocre, finally wrote something today I have been waiting for him to write:
It might be that your audience isn’t smart enough, caring enough, attentive enough, with-it enough or generous enough to understand and appreciate you.
Or it might be that you’re not good enough (yet).
If you’re in the habit of assuming one of these, try out the other one for a while.
The problem, of course, in his advice is that exactly the people who should realize that their work is pretty thin and their minds too narrow for the game they are in, will think the first option is speaking to them.
There is typically a lot to learn from those who don’t flatter you.