A few weeks ago I was meeting with a small group of colleagues. We were working on ways to support each other in our personal and professional development.

I was describing specific goals that I was working on, and one of the participants interrupted.

“I’d like to support you in that,” she said. “What kind of feedback is most helpful for you?”

That question stopped me in my tracks. I wasn’t sure – I had to think about it.

It also made me realize how different we all are, as others in the group shared their preferred feedback.

One person likes lots of cheerleading. Another preferred succinct and very honest comments. Yet another only wanted feedback if she asked first.

I began to review my work with clients, and then look at my relationships with friends and family.

I realized that I very seldom ask that important question. I saw that I give feedback as I prefer to get it. No wonder I am sometimes greeted with a polite response, or a blank look that tells me my well-intentioned praise or encouragement just didn’t “land.”

I also thought about how often someone’s comments or efforts don’t “land” with me. I too have a particular way I like to receive encouragement and feedback.

Then I thought about you all – my CJ network.  When you live with a chronic (and sometimes invisible) illness, encouragement, support and feedback are essential to communicating and relating well. But each of us has different preferences for what feels best as support .

What one person offers as their preferred style, may not suit you at all.

For some support is verbal and enthusiastic, when you may prefer practical help and not a lot of talking.

Others may perceive your dinner contribution and errand running as nice, but not quite as emotionally effusive as they want.

It is a delicate and important terrain.

How often do you ask others what kind of feedback works best for them?

How often are you clear about what works best for you?

We need the physical and emotional fuel that supports us – but we each need it in our own way.

Take a moment and think about your needs.

Then imagine how you might communicate that to those who so want to be on your team.

Practice asking others how they want to be supported – that will help give you the courage to identify what supports you.

Let me know how it goes!