The benefits of a square squad

Whose opinions and feedback really matter to you?

Brene Brown posed this question in her book, Rising Strong. Brown recognizes that most of us struggle when we are negatively judged by others. We don’t know how to respond. Should we believe everything we hear or none of it? Brown writes, “When we stop caring what people think, we lose our capacity for connection. But when we are defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable.” (p. 245)

To balance out how much or how little we care about other people’s opinions, Brown recommends creating a square squad.

The process is simple: Think about the people who push you to be better—the ones who care about you and are willing to give you their honest feedback. Then, fit as many of those people’s names as you can on a one-inch by one-inch piece of paper. The piece of paper is small to keep you diligent about who you include and who you don’t. (I was able to fit eight people into my square squad.)

Brown suggests using the square squad anytime you get feedback that confuses you or hurts your feelings. So, if somebody says you talk too much, and you’re not sure if that was just one person’s judgment or a widely held assessment, call one or more people on your square squad, tell them what happened, and ask if they’ve ever felt similarly.

I love this advice and continue to benefit from it. I have long struggled when anybody says something hurtful to me. Brown’s recommendation for a square squad helps me learn from those critical moments and not allow everyone’s assessments to have equal impact on me.

I would love to hear your thoughts!


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