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Do you have spinach stuck between your teeth?

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Photo by Daniel Fazio on Unsplash

You say ummm a lot, don’t you...


I still remember this feedback from an old boss of mine that was given to me over ten years ago. He had kindly offered to listen to my run-through of an important presentation that I was about to give. There were lots of other helpful comments, but this one point stays with me today. He nailed it with these seven words and was spot on. At the time I was like a lot of nervous public speakers filling pauses with ummms, when actually taking a breath and pausing to think was the best action to take (i.e. do nothing for a second or two).

Who will tell you that you have spinach stuck between your teeth? Who will give you the timely feedback that matters because they are invested in you?

  • Is it your boss?

  • A trusted peer?

  • A member of your team?

  • A friendly client?

  • A mentor?

  • A reverse mentor?

  • A coach?

All of the above would be great. Some of the above are fine. None of the above is a problem as that’s when your chance to get feedback is limited to something akin to the annual sheep dip performance appraisal which is too late, too anonymous and too general.

You can tell great feedback as 1) you don’t forget it, and if like me, you can visualise the telling of it and how you felt when you heard it for the first time and 2) you still use the lessons learned from that feedback and even better you pay it forward to others so they can benefit from it as well.


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