"I heard that you are cr@p at your job" said a CTO to me in a one to one meeting

…as a non-sequitur to my giving him some feedback about the culture of fear he was creating within engineering.

This 9,000+ people company CTO was well known for "attacking" people who were telling him things he did not want to hear.

He often had such strong reactions that threw his interlocutors into defending themselves and starting a fight.

But he couldn't hijack me that easily!

You see.... love being put on the spot - it's my superpower - and my immediate response was:

"That sounds terrible. I would definitely appreciate your thoughts as to what I might have done to have gotten that kind of awful feedback."

And my body language moved into "confident note taking", waiting for him to tell me, with examples, just how "cr@p I was".

He sat back in his chair for probably half a minute (which to me felt like half an hour) and then said:

"I'm sorry, I don't know why I said that, I honestly don't have any evidence of this!"

I was frankly relieved but also admired him immensely for his honesty and for apologising.

Do you have immediate emotional reactions when people give you negative feedback or challenge you unexpectedly?

What do you think makes us humans react like this in similar situations?

#cto #ceo #psychologicalsafety



Adelina Chalmers a.k.a The Geek Whisperer

Helps Engineers who are Leaders (CEO/ CTO/ VP) get buy-in from their peers/teams/investors by transforming Communication techniques into Algorithms