“Could you fill this in for me?” Asked Mrs R., handing me a short questionnaire. “It’s for work. They said we could get someone who knows us well to fill it in, so we can compare it with our own answers.”

I looked at the questions. It was an evaluation of communication skills and listening skills.

Experience has taught me to be cautious of “360 degree appraisal” exercises. They are often used by organisations to make it easy for managers to deliver uncomfortable messages to subordinates by getting their subordinates to do the dirty work: “You might have achieved your targets, but your team think you are over-assertive, unreasonable and too keen to take all the credit…”

If you are confident and brave you fill in the form with answers that give an honest view of what you think about your manager. Alternatively, if you work for a company which does not like to employ confident and brave people, you fill in the form with answers that give an honest view of what you think your managers think about themselves.

“Are you sure you want me to fill this in,” I asked, “with my honest opinion?… Or do you want me to put the answers that I think you would put?”

“What?” She replied, innocently. “Of course I want you to put what you think.”

One of the important skills acquired in twenty-five years of married life is knowing when not to voice an opinion. A bitten tongue is sometimes valuable. So you need to be brave and confident to fill in a 360 degree questionnaire about your beloved. There was no box to tick with “no answer”.

I filled in the boxes with more thought than I usually apply to form filling.

I handed back the completed form and Mrs R. unveiled her answers. There were 15 questions, the answers used a scale from 1 – 5 (strongly agree to strongly disagree). Our answers were the same for 7 questions, just one point apart for four questions and two points apart for four questions. For all the questions where our answers were different, I had rated her higher than she rated herself.

I think that I passed the test.

3 Responses to “Honestly”

  1. 1 Mike S

    At the risk of encouraging marital disharmony, fill in the questionnaire for yourself, Alex, and then get Mrs R to give her opinion of you….let us know the results.

  2. 2 Steve M

    May I congratulate you on your courage, integrity and insight? Did you breath a sigh of relief when you passed the test?

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