The Gift of Honesty, the Price of Vulnerability

Be prepared when the ouch of vulnerability hits.

Feedback, aka constructive criticism, can sometimes hurt when I’m in thin-skin mode. I emailed a blog post recently ( that a friend, we’ll call her Mary (because actually, that’s her name), took issue with, not so much the post but the way it was sent out.

Here’s the email exchange, full of gems:

Mary wrote:  I know it’s impressive whizbang technology, but when I get an email that’s obviously been sent to a large mailing list, yet addresses me by name, I find that a bit irritating.  Is this one of those “Constant Contact” things?  I know this is the hot new marketing thing you’re supposed to do, but I dislike it.  Am I alone in this feeling?  I wonder.  I’d rather have a mass email be honest about what it is.

Also, I reserve this email address for individuals who are writing to me personally, so no offense, but please use it only when you are writing to me.

I wrote: Ouch. Deep breath. Always good to get your input. So far feedback has been excellent but maybe those who agree with you are not vocal about it. How does a mass email “be honest about what it is” – as I don’t want to be anything less? Should I remove you from the (yes it is) Constant Contact lists or just change it to a different email address? Thanks for letting me know your reaction and sending your feedback.

Mary wrote: I didn’t say anything the first few times, but more and more I find that when I speak up on what bugs me, I often have (silent) company, so I wanted to give my feedback.  I don’t mind an email that’s clear about the fact that 147 people will be getting one–a low-tech equiv would be “Dear Everyone.”  People KNOW that mass emails aren’t personal messages, so why do fake things to “personalize”? You can change mine to my yahoo address–that’s my email for mass use!  And I’m glad you took it in the spirit I intended…

I wrote: The irony and the beauty of me in the midst of studying and practicing vulnerability (Brené Brown “Daring Greatly”) and you providing a perfect moment to experience it, is just almost too much for me to take in. Thanks.

Mary wrote: And you provided ME the name of what sounds like a fascinating book–I’ve put it on hold at APL.   Lately, I’ve been doing my own personal work on speaking up–honestly, constructively, and according to my nature (which often means wrapping it in a bubble wrap of humor).  So far, the results are encouraging…  Isn’t it great to have people around you who provide that irritating grain of sand that can grow into a pearl?  I feel lucky indeed.

Mary did three important things in delivering her criticism: she was honest, direct and respectful (wrapping criticism in wry humor works). “Honest Direct Respectful: Three Simple Words that Will Change Your Life” by Dennis D. Adams is a good book to have around.

Yes, we all slip (okay, mostly me) and sometimes screw up our delivery. My wise friend Patti DeNucci recently posted a blog about those times when we inadvertently make others feel small/ disrespected and apologized for whenever she may have done that to someone. If you know Patti, you know “disrespectful” is not her style.

So dear readers, I’m with Patti. Mea culpa for those times when I’ve been either disrespectful or less than honest.

Thanks to those who are practicing loving honesty. I can be a better person with your help, and if your honesty comes with respect, I can handle the initial ouch. Honesty with respect is a gift enabling personal growth, so find me some band-aids and count me in.

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.
Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.
~ Brené Brown


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    9 thoughts on “The Gift of Honesty, the Price of Vulnerability”

    1. Joyce Boatright

      You are an incredible role model to those of us who want to grow in spirit and be vulnerable to life on life’s terms. Thank you, thank you!

      1. We certainly have multiple opportunities daily to grow, don’t we? Thank you, dear Joyce.

      2. Awesome, Jeanne! Not only good for me, but for my staff as we are big on honesty and coaching for success. I agree about Patti, she is about as kind as God makes them,!



    2. Your willingness to air your exquisite dirty laundry is one of the best things about you. My husband proudly claims credit for being the sand trying continually to polish me into a pearl. (Not exactly scientifically correct I suspect, but you get the gist.)

      1. Nobody’s ever called my dirty laundry exquisite! Thanks, Ginny.
        Still laughing about your husband’s proud efforts, scientific or otherwise.
        You know, it is possible that pearls are overrated…

    3. christina baldwin

      wow–what a wonderful bit of learning, for the two of you and the 147 of us! 🙂 this exchange is the path of the elder–the women of spirtual warriorship. thank you for sharing it.

      1. I’m happy to report the blog now goes out to an audience of over 430 folks and a large percentage of them are actually reading it! Thanks for your wonderful words. The response, both on and off the grid, has been gratifying. A big thank you to you and PeerSpirit ( for creating the path for those women of spiritual warriorship.

    4. Dear Jeanne – I still enjoy getting any communication from you, even if it is directed to me and 147 (or even 430) other people because I love your effort and kindness to share of yourself in order to give the gift of insight and connection. We are so lucky you can do that en masse today because most of us would never make it to the “short list” if you had to spread your message/thoughts to us all individually. There just isn’t enough time in a day anymore. Plus, if I want to have a one-on-one conversation with you, all I have to do is hit “reply.” And how wonderful to be part of this bigger conversation with all of the interesting women I haven’t had the pleasure to meet by posting to your blog site!

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