New Year starts with a great news. My Second article published in Infinithoughts 🙂

In an interview recently, I was asked to explain scenario when I got a tough feedback, at a totally unexpected time and how I took that forward. This happened 4 years ago, when I thought I did a great job and was waiting for good feedback, but a tough feedback hit me hard, completely out of the blue and made me much better, forever.

I was transitioning to new Project Manager role within the Company and Sarish, my peer was identified as my back-fill to my role. We were in the midst of rolling out a new tool across the Organization. Though, I was involved in discussions from the beginning, it is now Sarish’s responsibility for the implementation.

As part of transition, Sarish and I discussed that it will be good for him to lead his first meeting to explain the new tool, with other Project Managers in my new Team. It will be a great practice ground since, I will be sitting in the meeting and, if anything goes wrong, I can set it right and share additional context, as needed.

The meeting started and there were couple of times where Sarish could not answer the questions asked by my peer Project Managers. As per our plan, I jumped in and provided answers, shared additional context and corrected Sarish in couple of places. This I thought, would really help Sarish in subsequent meetings. Sarish was very appreciative of this at the end of the meeting.

After this meeting, I had was my mentoring session with Krishna. I thought, Krishna would really appreciate me for the way I helped Sarish in the meeting, as he saw me talk in the meeting. As soon as I got into Krishna’s office, he said “I am not happy about the meeting and it clearly appeared that by explaining more about the tool and answering questions and correcting Sarish, in front of a large group, you threw Sarish under the bus and put him down in front of 15 other Project Managers in our team, and and this is not going to help him be successful”.

I was stunned to hear this. This is not what I thought I would hear. I explained to Krishna about our plan, but then Krishna responded “15 people who sat in the meeting did not know this context and your intention. They would have felt you threw Sarish under the bus”.

When I was about to justify more, my Guru’s voice said “In the face of feedback, do not look at the past and give excuses. Look at the future and be clear on what you can change”. Immediately, I said “YES Krishna, you are right. Everyone in the meeting would have thought the same about me. I will work on it and take care in future meetings”.

This incident was repeatedly going on in my head for a week. Interestingly, I stumbled upon a Podcast and the title caught my attention – “Your Evil Twin”. It was under 3 minutes and started listening to it, not realizing my life is going to change forever.

Jill from Poynter Institute was talking about her experience as a Manager in a News room. During days of Snowstorm, she would call her Team to be there at 3 AM in the Office. As a Manager, to demonstrate that she wouldn’t ask her Team to do something that she wouldn’t do by herself, Jill would be there at 2 AM.

One of those days, a Team member, walked to her and said, “If you didn’t come in, we wouldn’t screw things here and you should learn to Trust us”. It baffled Jill to think that this is what her Team has been thinking about her for so long. This action, Jill called out as “Evil Twin”. This twin is not an outsider, but is inside us, and makes our action to be interpreted differently – in a way that you never intended and most importantly on a negative way.

It hit me hard – Yes, my behavior of answering questions in the meeting and in turn helping Sarish, showed my Evil Twin to Krishna and 15 others who were present in that meeting. They saw an Evil Yagya, throwing Sarish under the bus, but not my intention of helping Sarish based on our discussion.

I learnt, the only way to overcome Evil Twin is to Communicate long enough, explain my intention to people, and most importantly talk about why I am doing some things. I started talking more and explaining to people, my intentions and “why” I was doing things the way I was doing. Over time, people started appreciating me as being a Great Communicator and a Project Manager who can carry the Team to delivery results consistently. It was only possible when I kill my Evil Twin when I work with my Team.

Now, I keep asking this question every time – “Is there an Evil Twin that I am showing to you, by doing something, that is not my intentions?” and if my answer is Yes, I Stop what I am doing and instead explain and talk through my intentions and make peace of mind for myself.

Knowing my Evil Twin has changed my life. Have you met your Evil Twin yet?