Receiving Unwanted Feedback

Receiving Feedback: Too Many Spoons in the Sink!

This is a story about receiving feedback. Feedback that I didn’t want to hear and didn’t ask for.

So, I’m sitting in my office working away, and I look up to find my sister Jennifer in the door with her hands on her hips. She says to me in a very unhappy tone of voice– you know the one when someone has reached the end of their rope– “You’re a spoon user.”

“What?” I responded.

“Come with me,” she said, “and I’ll show you.” She takes me to the kitchen and aggressively points to the sink. “See!” I look down, and there are six spoons in the sink. Six spoons, and it’s only noon!

“So this is a problem,” I say. “There are 18 more in the drawer!”

“You’re driving me crazy,” she says.

Her feedback caused me to examine my spoon usage and indeed, I am a SPOON USER. I get up in the morning and make a cup of coffee, stir it up a little, and voila, one spoon in the sink. I come back for refills and presto, two, three and four spoons in the sink. A snack or two and yep, six spoons in the sink.

So rather than get all upset, which I could have easily done, I took the high road. We came up with a quick solution. We would get a SPOON REST. And the next day– there were six spoons in the spoon rest. Our first solution didn’t work!

And sometimes when you are in conflict with another person, your first solution will not work either.

So upon further discussion, I discovered that Jennifer’s real concern was not about the number of spoons in the spoon rest, but instead about bacteria forming in the sink. Lord knows we didn’t want that! So our second solution was for me to put the spoons in the dishwasher. Problem solved.

So what can we learn from this experience? Whenever we want to PUSH information away from us, we need to pause a moment, and then PULL information to us. We all have BLIND SPOTS, things that other people know about us that we don’t know. We do things that frustrate people, that make them behave badly, and when they tell us about the things they observe or perceive, we need to listen. We want to keep the flow of communication open. We want to invite feedback, to embrace feedback and to use feedback so that we can do better– one conversation at a time.


Dr. Susanne Gaddis
The Communications Doctor
phone: 919-933-3237

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