How are you at receiving criticism? Do you prefer that others treat you with kid gloves, or go for brutal honesty?
Personally speaking, I tend to appreciate both approaches, but generally, I’d much prefer it if you just cut the crap and got to the point.
One of the things that really pisses me off the most is when people are giving me some kind of feedback, and they’re trying to do so in that horrendous positive way that people are taught to – especially those in a corporate or educational environment. They won’t actually tell you that you fucked up, or that you suck at something, instead they just beat around the bush, and tell you about all the great stuff that you’ve done, and then make suggestions for the next time, ‘advising’ you on a ‘more efficient’ way of achieving a desired result.
It’s designed to basically tell you you fucked up, without actually saying it; eluding to it as much as possible, so that you reach your own conclusion, because they’re not actually allowed to say it. If they did, they’d be hauled in front of H.R. faster than you can say ‘uh-oh!’
I’m from a dance background, where we were constantly being told we were shit, and that we were doing things wrong, and as a result, we pulled our finger out, got our shit together, and worked our asses off to make sure that we got it right, and if after all of that, we still got it wrong, it would become one of the most humiliating soul-destroying experiences anybody could face. As a young teenager, our dance teachers would put the fear of God into us, but it worked. There was no dancing around issues, if we were dancing and got the choreography wrong, then we’d get singled out, and the whole group would have to go again from the top, and we would continue this practice until everybody got it right.
When I started ballet, I had a very nurturing teacher, and I loved her to bits, but she just wasn’t strict enough, compared to the other dance school I was at. The ballet teacher struggled to control her students when they were being rowdy and disruptive, and it was the same approach when it came to rehearsals for dance competitions and Eisteddfods.
This brutal honesty was something that I’ve taken with me throughout my dance journey. When I was studying it full time, my keen eye and brutal honesty saw me, a junior at the time, running the end of term rehearsals for the seniors, putting them all into place. The teachers wanted their groups to be moving the same, and I was able to really pick up fine details amongst them, and make lots of minor corrections, which made major impact.
Now I find myself in a position where I’m required to give feedback to people using a specific model. There’s an entire manual describing the language that I’m expected to use, and like I mentioned above, I have to put a positive spin on everything. It actually causes quite a deep conflict within me, because I feel compelled to just tell them the truth and be blunt and honest about it, but then help them work on what their doing wrong… but I can’t.
I’ve found a handful of other people who share that same viewpoint as I, and it’s such a relief, because as somebody in a senior position, I’m able to give them this personal and blunt feedback, without having to dance through the positive politically-correct crap that we’re expected to spin – because they respond more effectively from being told the truth.
I will always prefer to be told the honest truth. I’d rather it hurt me a lot more all at once, rather than a gradual persistent hurt. Just get it out of the way all at once… like ripping off a bandaid.