"Why don't you wear your fancy workout clothes to walk a little farther rather than parking in the family spaces?". This love note met me as I came running out to my car after a quick solo trip to IKEA 20 minutes after they opened on a Saturday morning. The parking lot was still largely empty which I took as a sign that the rest of the world spends their weekend sleeping in while I was on a mission to use my one day off completing an exhaustive list of personal "to-do's" . I was shocked (and annoyed) by the insinuation that I had been inconsiderate after all I do for so many others all week and given the fact that there were still plenty of open.
The book "Thanks for the feedback" by Doug Stone and Shiela Heen, opened my eyes to this mystery of receiving feedback. What would it look like if we responded to all of the feedback we get each do with making a positive assumption of the other and honestly reflecting on what it is that we can learn from it? I wonder what had happened to the note writer that week? Were they caring for children (it was the family lot) without any support and feeling lonely and desperate? Were they struggling with wondering how they would afford the mortgage for their new home? Did they have a child with special needs or a parent who is struggling with illness?
Upon further reflection, I understood that my busyness was not other people's problem or something that I should expect them to appreciate any more than how I consider what they might personally be going through. This applies to "feedback" that comes from people driving next to me, patients who arrive late, my son who notices when I am checking my phone instead of listening to him, a friend who I have lost touch with and so much more.
In response to the feedback, I told myself, "Slow down, breathe, be deliberate, be understanding". I also recognized that I really could cross off half of the items on my "to do" without having them "done". I didn't need to busy myself with going and buying or constructing Scandinavian furniture (even with "easy" instructions). I needed to rest, connect with the people who matter to me and re-charge. If we are too busy, it is harder to have that positive assumption about those we encounter or the feedback we receive. Through simplifying, we can make space for more of what keeps our hearts in medicine.
Reflection: What feedback have you recently received that indicated that you might be too busy? Is there something on your current "to do" list that doesn't need to be there?