This morning, someone at my office made a request in our asynchronous chat application of a team in another department. I saw this request and I knew that they wouldn’t be able to fulfill on that request without knowing additional details. So I asked for that person to provide those details in order to ensure the request was fulfillable.

Later in the day, I was given feedback from management that I may be able to increase my focus if I stepped back from those conversations.

I think this is fair feedback. However, I was really struggling with it. (And honestly, this post is part of how I’m working through it.)

I understand that there are things I can do to be more focused. I understand that not participating in certain conversations in our asynchronous chat application that may be one of those ways to increase my focus.

But I was really struggling with the trigger of this feedback.

I participated in a conversation in a way that I saw as being constructive and helpful to both the person making the request and the team they were making the request of. I took what I saw to be steps towards a more frictionless interaction.

However, I also participate in conversations where the conversation is purely humorous. I also participate in conversations that are merely small talk. I also participate in conversations by sharing fun pictures with other people.

These other conversations are also visible. These other conversations are also places where by stepping back, I could increase my focus. These other conversations have also been ongoing for years.

I found it confusing that the conversation that would lead to feedback from management about focus would be a conversation where I’m doing something useful rather than one where I’m not doing anything useful.

Anyhow, at the same time, I’ve managed to notice a couple of things that I think led to my struggle.

I am attached to understanding everything. As a result of this attachment:

  • I can come off as difficult because I can ask a lot of questions to make sure I fully understand something.
  • I get stressed/anxious and feel unsafe/ungrounded when I don’t understand something.
  • I can’t see the forest for the trees because I can get distracted by understanding things on the periphery.
  • I struggle to try on new ideas because I’m uncomfortable with things I don’t understand.
  • I’m scared to commit to things that I don’t fully understand because I don’t know everything that I’ll need to do, prepare for, or otherwise anticipate.
  • I struggled to receive this straightforward feedback (even though the feedback itself made sense to me) because I didn’t understand the principle behind the feedback.

Also, on a related note, I felt incompetent when I didn’t understand why this feedback came after this particular conversation instead of any of the others. I felt like there was some truth about the matter that I was blind to. I was scared that I was stuck and unable to improve because I couldn’t understand the problem sufficiently to address it. And I felt like I was lacking something because I did something wrong without my knowing that these other people could see.

So I successfully managed to make difficult what should have been straightforward feedback because I felt like I was incompetent and I have a need to thoroughly understand everything.

So now that I’m aware of that, hopefully now I can let go of it.

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