It was the Spring of 2011; I was volunteering as a treasurer for a non-profit organization. My motivation was to hone my accounting skills while expanding my network. It was going well for the most part, except for one small problem. One of the old members started giving me unsolicited advice on how to do my job. At first, I tried to ignore her, but eventually, it pushed me over the edge. Being relatively new to the team, I decided to talk to someone I trusted.
Fortunately, this trusted member was a coach. She empathized with me that the other member wasn’t being respectful. Then she asked, “Why does it bother you so much”? I felt indignant, “What do you mean! She is constantly pestering me; why wouldn’t I!” I didn’t say it out loud, though. Later I vented more with a friend. As my emotions settled a bit, I started pondering, “Why did it bother me so much?”
Someone said something, and it was me who brought it inside. In the treasurer role, I was stretching myself; I wanted to prove my competence. Maybe I was implicitly seeking approval about my performance. When I got the unsolicited advice instead, I immediately concluded that I was not doing a good job. Since I did not consider myself to be good enough, I was susceptible to any external sign supporting that belief!
What a discovery! It bothered me because I had a critic inside me. Finally, I had something I could work on. Thank you, my coach, for asking the hard question — “Why does it bother you?” It has become a great tool for me to dig into the root cause whenever someone’s opinion affects me significantly.