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Don't Ask The Question If You Don't Want To Hear The Answer

Lonnie Pacelli -- Asking for feedback doesn't mean you have to act on it. But, for career success, at least be professional about it and exercise a little grace and maturity.

Recently I had an interesting interaction on LinkedIn. A young man from a financial services company asked to connect with me, which I accepted. He immediately sent me a message asking to meet for coffee to conduct a personal financial review, and told me his other customers were VERY (yes he "e-yelled" VERY) satisfied with the work he did. Aside from the fact that I'm satisfied with my existing financial advisor, I have a bit of a problem with someone on LinkedIn pitching me right after connecting. I replied with a simple "No Thanks."

A few days later he responded back thanking me and asking why I declined. I had to decide whether to just ignore his question or respond. I looked at his profile and decided that he really wanted to know and that I could help him with his connect à pitch technique. I told him that I thought his trying to sell me right after connecting was disingenuous; that he didn't take any time to learn about me and didn't try to develop any rapport points. He then responded with "When did I try to sell you?" I told him that asking to do a personal financial review and telling me his other customers were VERY satisfied felt like he was pitching me. He then responded with "When did I ask to review your personal finances?" At this point I was curious as to where this was going, so I did a copy/paste from his original message that asked to do a personal financial review. This is where it got really interesting. He responded with the following:

"I never asked you to share your personal financial information online. It was a simple yes or no question. Most nice people on LinkedIn are happy to meet up with me for a chat over coffee. At this point I'll pass on my offer to meet with you. Best of luck to you in the future."

I read his message, partly amused, partly shocked. I thought it interesting how he inserted the word "online" in his response (which was never mentioned before), how it was a simple yes or no question (which I answered with a simple no), how nice people are happy to meet up with him (I guess I'm on his naughty list now), and how he'll pass on his offer to meet up (kind of felt like "You can't break up with me, I'm breaking up with you first"). He did put a "Best of luck to you in the future" tag on the end to pretend to be professional, but it wasn't enough to prevent me from blocking him.

I mused over this interaction and decided to call one of my expert sales authors, Nikki Rausch, to get her take on what happened. I told her the story and after saying, "Thanks for making my day," she confirmed that this was a textbook example of a disingenuous sales interaction. While I was pleased that I didn't totally misread things, the consultant in me hoped the fellow would have used the feedback as a teachable moment. He asked for feedback, didn't like it, then told me I wasn't nice. He did give me one gift; great content for an article...

My one takeaway for you is this: if you're going to ask for feedback, be prepared to get feedback that you may not agree with. That doesn't mean you have to act on the feedback. I made it clear to the fellow that my job was to tell him what I thought, his was to decide what to do with it. He could have just said "Thank you, Lonnie," and went on his way. He took the additional step to not only ignore the feedback but try to prove me wrong and subsequently insult me. He never considered the position he was putting me in. I could have simply ignored his request for feedback, but I thought he really wanted to know why I didn't want to meet up. Turns out he didn't give a rat's tail about what I thought. It was all about him. You can add the words "lack of grace and maturity" to disingenuous when I think of this person. I may forget his name, but I will always remember the company he works for. That company will never get my business.

Asking for feedback doesn't mean you have to act on it. By all means, if you don't understand feedback, ask clarifying questions to help you decide what to do with it. But don't insult the person you asked; they don't deserve it.

Courtesy of Lonnie Pacelli

Lonnie Pacelli is an accomplished author and autism advocate with over 30 years experience in leadership and project management at Accenture, Microsoft, and Consetta Group. See books, articles, keynotes, and self-study seminars at

© 2022 Lonnie Pacelli

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