EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

The FENG is a society based on helping others. (Not that they actually need our help, of course.)

I realize that, at times, members are in a sensitive state and I try to act accordingly. But, I don’t really know if providing brutally direct advice is better than soft peddling what they absolutely have to do.

As Butch Cassidy said in the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”: “Don’t sugarcoat it Sundance, tell it to her straight.”

The question is which is better?

At our meeting in Connecticut I am frequently listening to at least a few pretty bad 90-second announcements over the course of a two-hour meeting. Even though I try to model a good announcement by going first, I understand that this may be a first attempt by those attending to put their written thoughts to voice, so I try to be positive in my critique and make suggestions that build on their successes.

My feeling has always been that embarrassing someone isn’t going to have the desired effect of encouraging them to come to another meeting and try again. Improvements may need to be drastic, but harsh criticism I have found doesn’t work.

Still, it is a delicate balance. Out of fear that they will hurt your feelings at a sensitive time, many folks you know will spare your feelings and tell you that everything you are doing is great. They in effect prevent you from learning and growing. The truth is that they may not know what is wrong, or they may not have been through the process and know what is needed. All they know is that something is missing, but they don’t know what.

Friends, it is always your call on both sides of the equation.

As a dispenser or receiver of advice that is free, you always know you are getting what you paid for. (I don’t know. Do you think I should charge?)

The “consider the source” strategy of evaluating advice can help here. The goal is not to be defensive about what you are doing. Pride of authorship may cause you to ignore valuable advice. The truth is that many coaches can’t play, and the same truth applies here.

If, for example, you are participating in our peer resume review process, trade resumes and make judgments of your own.

You are the one who has to lay it on the line each and every day in your job search. I can dispense valid advice, but if I don’t communicate it in a way and with a tone that will cause you to accept what I have to say, I may as well be talking to a brick wall. Or, as they say, spitting into the wind. (I had to get a sailing expression into this editorial somewhere.)

Be as direct as you can while being sensitive to those you wish to accept your advice.

If that isn’t the horns of a dilemma, I don’t know what is.

Regards, Matt

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