When The Golden Rule Doesn't Apply

How to adapt our communication styles to meet others' preferred styles

I wrote a post about feedback last month that sparked some spicy 🌶 discussion on Twitter.

Some folks replied saying they actually dislike tactful, long-winded feedback because it can be too obtuse, and prefer direct, to-the-point feedback.

Great! You’ve done the hard work of identifying your preferred communication style. While it’s important to know your preferred communication style, you can’t assume your default working style applies universally to the other members of your team.

One of the fallacies new managers often make is they assume The Golden Rule applies to all scenarios. They ask themselves, “How would I like to be managed?” or “How would I like to receive feedback?”, and then they communicate using their default style.

Being an effective leader is all about learning to how to influence. To influence, we need to understand how others prefer to be communicated and worked with, and adapt our communication styles to meet others' preferred styles. This enables us to build stronger partnerships and resolve tensions.

My co-founder Anita wrote a great post about DISC recently, check it out and identify your team members’ DISC type.

After you’ve identified if they’re Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, or Compliance then use this cheat sheet in conjunction with The Grand’s Feedback Tool for communicating with them.

Check Out The Grand’s Feedback Method

  • If they’re a D — Keep the Situation and Behavior short and to the point. Get to the Impact ASAP.

  • If they’re an I — Be sure to invite them to brainstorm with you when it comes to the Opportunity.

  • If they’re an S — Provide a full picture when describing the Situation, and make sure to deliver the feedback in a context where the recipient feels psychologically safe.

  • If they’re a C — Share specific details and examples when it comes to the Behavior. When discussing the Opportunity present 2-3 options they can respond to.

I hope this cheat sheet helps you communicate and influence more effectively. If you use it, let me how it goes!



What is coaching?

Last week, I was a guest on the Asian Boss Girl podcast with the amazing Mel, Janet, and Helen and I was asked a question:

"Do you feel pressure as an executive coach to have all the right answers?"

I love this question because that's precisely what a lot of people think coaching is. You need to tell people what to do, advise them, and fix their problems.

In reality, that's not what coaching is about.

As humans, we all have different maps based on our learned behavior. This was modeled for us early on in our childhoods and coupled with our lived experiences, they make us who we are today. So if I tell you what to do, I'm ignoring your map. Instead, the way I like to think about it is:

“Coaching is a means of conveyance”

This is one of the best definitions I've heard to date from my friend, former colleague, and mentor, Khalid Halim.

Coaching is really a travel word – if you look at the etymology it's related to carriage or coach class on a plane or a train. When you hold that visual in your mind you realize coaching gets you from where you are that you no longer want to be anymore, to where you want to go.

This is an important thing to remember, especially as a manager: you don't always have to be directive and tell people what to do. You can coach them and help them get to where they want to go.

So how do you do that? Coaching is one of the fundamental skills that we focus on at The Grand, and I wanted to share two questions that have been impactful for me and my coaching toolkit.

When someone comes to you with a problem, the most powerful question you can ask is:

What would you like?

This helps them paint a picture of where they want to go. But as Khalid masterfully tells us what’s fundamental to being human is we never want what we want. We actually want what it enables for us.

That's why the second most important question is:

What will having that do for you?

This helps you uncover the core of what the person actually wants.

A community member from The Grand came to me with a problem – they were stuck in their work and wanted something more. I asked them what they would like and they mentioned they wanted to go to business school. Then I asked what will having that do for you, and eventually, we landed on the fact that she was really craving community and a sense of belonging. For her, this conversation unlocked all the other ways she can get community, without necessarily getting an MBA.

This process helps you get to the heart of where someone needs to go.

Khalid reminds us that,

“As a leader, you have one job: to find stuck energy and get it moving again.”

If you hold that image of a carriage coach in your mind, it will guide your coaching and you’ll ultimately become a better leader.

To learn and practice your coaching skills as a manager join our next Grand Quest on Becoming an Effective Manager. Applications close tonight.

Get Started

I’d love to know how using those two questions improves your coaching conversations. Feel free to respond and let me know how they work for you.

And if you want to hear more about my conversation on coaching, leadership, and more with Asian Boss Girl, tune in here.



What are your limiting beliefs?

Naming and reframing my limiting beliefs

During a meeting with The Grand community last week, I heard a member say:

“I feel guilty my new apartment has more bathrooms than my parent’s house.”

I know that exact feeling.

For me, it stems from a deep-seated belief that I’ve carried for the majority of my life — resources are limited, and I shouldn’t take more than my share.

Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, calls this belief scarcity mentality. It’s a mindset where you view resources as a finite pie 🥧, and a belief that if you take a big piece of pie, you will leave less for everyone else.

I’ve noticed many of my friends who are immigrants have been conditioned to have a scarcity mentality. As we’ve gained personal achievements and success, we feel increasingly guilt-ridden. A small voice in the back of our minds questions if we deserve a big slice of pie and if we’ve taken too much pie away from others.

It took me a long time to unlearn this mentality. I’d read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and learned in theory, one can shift from a scarcity to an abundance mentality. But it wasn’t until my Grand Quest on Becoming an Effective Manager where I was prompted to confront my limiting beliefs, and I was finally able to unravel myself from this mindset.

According to my Grand facilitators Cristina Georgoulakis and Mindy Zhang:

Limiting beliefs are false or negative beliefs an individual has about themselves, others, or the world around them. They hook us and prevent us from being the best we can be.

When we have limiting beliefs about ourselves, we avoid taking risks, experimenting, and learning. When we hold limiting beliefs about others, especially as their managers, we unintentionally block their growth.

After learning about limiting beliefs, I wrote mine down and talked through a few scenarios out loud.

Would raising more money for The Grand result in less capital for other founders?


Would promoting one person on my team result in less opportunities for other team members?


If I knew these situations to be false, why did I still carry this belief? Could I shift my mindset to one of abundance, where there is plenty of pie and bathrooms available for everyone? Yes!

Naming and reframing my limiting beliefs about the world allowed me to view my work and my team from a place of abundance, growth, and expansion. It is one of the most beneficial shifts I’ve made in my personal and professional development this year.

I’d encourage you to reflect on your limiting beliefs.

  • What are some beliefs you carry?

  • How might you test these beliefs to see if they are still true for you?

  • How could you explore alternative possibilities or reframe your beliefs?

To grow and expand as a manager and leader, join the next cohort of Becoming an Effective Manager. Applications close in a week on July 14th.

Get Started

I’d love to hear your responses to the reflection questions, and what they unlock for you. Write me any time by replying to the email or DMing us on twitter.



What's your DISC type?

I've always been drawn to personality tests, ever since I was a kid. From quizzes in magazines to more professional ones like The Big Five that I took in business school and everything in between.

For me, it was never just the results themselves that intrigued me, but rather the conversations that they elicited. Personality tests allow us to learn more about ourselves and each other, and moreover, they give us a common language to work with.

At The Grand, one we teach in Becoming an Effective Manager Quest is the DISC Personality System, often described as the universal language of behavior. We chose this assessment because it's a simple tool that can help us uncover our blind spots, our default actions and help us change our behaviors especially as managers by identifying the intensity of four personality profiles:

D = Dominance

I = Influence

S = Steadiness

C = Compliance

When I first completed my assessment, I have to admit that I felt a little uncomfortable learning about my results. I was Influence, and the profile was spot on. I learned my strengths but also confronted the shadow sides to each of those.

Here's one example of what I learned about myself.

"You transmit energy and are great at improvising and adapting to situations."

I read that and nodded along, feeling validated for my positive energy and my resourcefulness.

"You can find it hard to get to the operational part of a project and comply with deadlines, procedures etc."

Yikes, that cuts to the core. I reflected on the fact that I tried to push out the deadline for this newsletter earlier today.

There are many more of these ahas that I went through during this exercise. And through The Grand Quest, I was able to get a deep dive into each of the profiles and I learn tactics around communication, persuasion, and problem-solving – insights that I can apply immediately with my team. I was even able to role-play and practice some of the scenarios that I'm encountering in my day-to-day working with personality profiles distinct from me. And what I'm walking away with is not that I'm in a box, but rather I now have the awareness to move away from my default behavior and really understand what's best for each interaction.

Empowered with these resources, I was able to spark a candid discussion with my team about how we each want to be treated and what we should avoid with each other. I'm thankful for this tool and the ability to practice it in a safe space. This was the impetus for having a real conversation and a common language to improve our understanding of ourselves and one another.

The things I'm actively working on with my Compliant teammates:

  • Listening more than I talk

  • Always including relevant context

  • Setting very specific agendas

I know that they feel more seen through these discussions and it was an eye-opening experience for all of us.

If you want a safe space and a group of supportive peers to practice tools like these to uplevel your management skills, join us for the next cohort of Becoming an Effective Manager Quest. Applications close on July 14th.

Apply Now

And if you're at a company that wants to partner with The Grand, please reach out here. We can't wait to help you support your teams in a more intentional way.

Finally, if you're interested in working with me, an "I", I'm hiring for two roles right now:

Learn More Here

All DISC types welcome. Apply here and share your story with me (and yes more story, less data) 😊



How do you give feedback?

Introducing The Grand's Feedback Tool

I grew up receiving constant feedback from my parents. When a popular management book came out a few years ago, I distinctly remember showing my colleagues messages from my mom on how she pioneered radically candid feedback.

Here’s one example:

My mom always gave honest and direct feedback. It was how she showed she cared. Her method of giving feedback was shared by leaders from her generation like Warren Buffet who famously said, “Honesty is a very expensive gift”.

While I agree with the platitude,“feedback is a gift”, as a recipient it often felt like an obtrusive package was dropped off with no warning and often no context, leaving me feeling disoriented.

This also led me to feel nervous anytime I had to give feedback. As an Influencing DISC personality type, my greatest fear is being accused of causing harm. I didn’t want to be responsible for someone else feeling distressed, so I would often avoid giving feedback.

Turns out, I’m not alone.

Many of us feel uncomfortable when giving feedback. And that is totally normal.

Feedback is intended to enable growth and growth is inherently uncomfortable. What’s important is not to avoid or withhold feedback because it’s uncomfortable — that is the most costly mistake you can make as a manager or teammate.

So how you deliver feedback well?

I recently learned of a method in my Grand Quest on Becoming an Effective Manager led by Cristina Georgoulakis and Mindy Zhang that totally transformed the way I give feedback. It helps me figure out exactly what to say by outlining four steps (Situation, Behavior, Impact, Opportunity), and it helps me deliver feedback in the right context.

I loved it so much that I shared with our product team, and we built a tool to help everyone learn The Grand’s Feedback Method.

Give It a Try!

Use the nifty script generator to help you deliver feedback in a more meaningful way.

Here’s what my mom’s feedback to me looks like using this tool:

We hope this tool helps you feel more comfortable and confident giving feedback, and deepen relationships with the most meaningful people in your life from your teammates to your mom.

Do you have any feedback on our feedback method? I’m all ears. Feel free to reply directly here, or DM me @heyreiwang.

Love this feedback tool? We’d be grateful if you shared it and tagged @TheGrandWorld.



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