Take the Criticism

We have a saying in our house, ‘if I were queen of the world’ and it ends with whatever decree we would have that would make life much easier or better for all if they would just listen to us. Now, it is a joke, sort of, to think we know better than the world or all of the leaders in it. To think that we understand all of the circumstances and sides to arguments to be able to make a statement that should apply world wide is silly. At the same time though, we do think we know the ‘right way’ to handle many circumstances and should be able to just tell people. This get’s especially bad when we’re thinking on a smaller scale. It’s obvious I don’t know the answer when its literally on a world scale but what about community wide? Could I be ‘queen of the world’ for my own home? What about my team or the group I’m leading at work, could I know the answer in that situation? What I’ve seen over the years is that I (or any of us really) might have an answer on the one best way to do things but without having a clear understanding of all viewpoints, the ‘queen’ will never get it completely right.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Case in point, a while back I was fielding some complaints from leaders in the organization about the expectations of their teams. I was asked to lead a very large and intense project to rewrite all of the expectations documents. My approach was to write them, myself, and then ask people to tell me where they wanted things changed. Seemed easy enough. I would give them the ‘right way’ and they could make any changes based off of that very high quality first draft (insert eye roll). I handled the entire project this way. Now don’t get me wrong, I was more than willing to make changes to the document and I was intending to be helpful by creating a first draft for people to work off of. It was all with the right intentions but likely could have been handled a different way. Leaders didn’t always feel comfortable telling me what they wanted changed. They didn’t appreciate that I had already determined the ‘right way’ without asking them first. When they did voice concerns or request changes I would feel the need to explain my thought process which they took as resistance to change.

When I was about midway through the project one of the leaders, who was a few levels above me, asked to meet just the two of us. He and I had had some friction thus far that was painful for me and palpable for the rest of the group. I had no idea why he would want to meet just the two of us but I felt like I should have someone with me which didn’t seem to be an option. So, I walked into the room sat down and proceeded to listen to a long list of everything I was doing wrong in the project. There were reasons why the work product I was producing wasn’t good and ways I was alienating others that I would need on my side. I took it all as a personal attack and couldn’t hear a word of it. I was right, what I was doing was right, and the way I was doing it was right. If they would all just listen to me it would work fine.

Obviously the ‘queen of the world’ mentality was running strong. The thing is I had a good product. What I was offering and the work I was putting in would significantly help them so, I wasn’t wrong. There were ques from other leaders that they weren’t comfortable but this was a big change so I ignored them. There was clear feedback that I was going in the wrong direction and suggestions of basically how to right the ship but because I didn’t think what I was providing was bad, I couldn’t hear any of it. Because I knew the direction I was leading the group in was right I wouldn’t allow any of the feedback to factor in. Ignoring feedback is never the right option though. Feedback is a gift and listening to it (not necessarily taking it all) will always improve the end product. So it didn’t matter that I ‘wasn’t wrong’ because what I was working on could have just been so much better. The thing is, it doesn’t matter if you disagree with some of the feedback, in fact I would venture to say there would be a detriment if you took it all at face value, you can still benefit from pieces of it.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

What have I learned since then that I can apply now when this same situation presents itself? I can listen, apply, and grow faster based on the response I’m getting. I can listen to what the concerns are and build support to those concerns into the information. I can apply any requests that don’t change the overall intent without defending myself or my original position. I can reflect on all of the information I’m getting and discern what should be taken with a grain of salt, what should be course corrected, and what can just be icing on the cake. I don’t have to be queen of the world. I don’t need everyone to listen to and agree with me. What I do need to is to come out with the best product, plan, process, etc and that comes from closely considering everyone’s perspectives and ideas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: