Being Your Best Self at Home: How Exchanging Positive Feedback to Transformed a Father-Son Relationship

By Shawn Quinn

Can we separate who we are at home and at work?  I’ve worked with many professionals who believe they can.  More and more experiences have led me to think it may not be possible.

In many of our executive education leadership training programs, Lift Consulting runs an exercise where people receive feedback about who they are at their best from people in all different aspects of their lives—at work, yes, but also with their families and friends, within their neighborhoods, communities, and other groups in which they interact.

When they read the positive-only feedback, our participants recognize that though they have different roles in different parts of their lives and may adjust their style, certain traits remain consistent. Who we are fundamentally comes through in all aspects of our lives.

Building on that exercise, a partner we worked with in an international corporation considered how this exercise might improve his relationship with his older son. It was not in a good place, he told me. He found himself thinking about this relationship and other home issues more and more during the workday, and it was blocking his focus and effectiveness.  After attending our leadership program, he decided to use the best self feedback process with his son and to make a greater effort to heal their struggling relationship.

The partner decided to have a one-on-one with his son where they would share examples of when each thought the other was at his best.  At first, the conversation seemed difficult and awkward, but they kept with it.  After a while they both managed to share a number of positive experiences with each other.

This devoted father was surprised his son remembered and felt positive about the experiences he mentioned.  They decided they need to do something together each week and to do more family activities together.  As the son was registering for college, he asked his dad for guidance and direction on what courses to take.  This partner said that never would have happened if he hadn’t dared to do something different to change the relationship.

Now when the partner is at work, the worry of his family is gone.  When he does think of his family, he feels good about it and doesn’t dwell on the situation with anxiety.  This partner’s perspective has changed in work as well as life. He approaches his colleagues differently, and reports finding more success and a great richness in those relationships.

Are there things you can change at work and or at home that will help you be happier and more effective in all aspects of your life?  If so, is worth putting off the effort it will take to change things?  Every day that goes by will never be returned.  Life is short. Make all aspects of your life rich and rewarding.