Doing the Right Thing is a book about people who work in offices, why we fight, and how we can stop fighting, solve our problems, and get back to work. All materials on this site Copyright © Marianne Powers 2002. All rights reserved. Home Back Next
Doing the Right Thing
and Achieving All Your Goals
at the Same Time
Full Book Outline:
Full Book Outline:
Welcome Information, Criticism is Information
There is nothing more important for doing the right thing and accomplishing all of your goals than having information. Information is essential. Wherever you want to go, you have to figure out how to get there. You have to know which road will take you there and which leads you in the wrong direction. You have to recognize the nature of the obstacles you encounter and find the resources to overcome them. You have to know who can or will help you and who might try to stop you. In anything you try to do, there is so much you need to know. You have to welcome information always, however it comes. I have never had any trouble listening to information that I wanted to hear. If my boss told me I was doing a great job, I said thank you for telling me. If my coworker let me know that new procedure worked great, I kept that procedure and improved upon it. If my customer said I really helped her, I remembered and tried that method with the next one. As long as people told me what I was doing right, I had no problem being successful. I have always had trouble listening to information that I did not want to hear. If my boss told me I made a mistake, I thought he must be wrong (What does he know about it anyway?!). If my coworker said, ďThat new procedure isnít workingĒ, I thought she sabotaged it. If my customer didnít like my suggestion, I thought her boss should fire her and hire someone more intelligent. It was like there was a filter on my hearing. Compliments got through okay and contributed to my store of knowledge. Complaints were reflected back on the speaker and didnít teach me anything, except for the really big ones. If you constantly ignore all the hints and clues and outright statements that there is a problem, and just keep right on doing the thing that is causing the problem, sooner or later the problem gets big enough that somebody feels like they have to do something about it. Usually, my boss wanted to talk to me about it first. By then it was such a big issue there was no way I was going to admit to it. I mean, I might agree to a few tiny areas for improvement but I sure didnít have any major flaws! My boss would usually have to be content with me agreeing that certain people might think I had said or done some such thing (although they were wrong, of course) and that I would try to keep from giving that impression in the future. That might keep me on my best behavior for a while, but sooner or later I would have to leave. Usually, leaving didnít matter to me very much. I have always loved my job, whatever it happened to be. Leaving a job was just an opportunity to get another; usually one that paid more. I even liked going to interviews (I still do). They gave me a chance to show off! But sometimes I really didnít want to leave. Sometimes the misunderstanding was with someone I really cared about. Those hurt, a lot. They got through the filter. I knew there was something I needed to learn. I learned that the filter (refusing to listen to criticism) doesnít keep you from getting hurt. I learned that Iím not perfect and thatís OK and nobody else ever really believed I was. I learned that it is better to find out something isnít working sooner rather than later. I learned that if you ignore problems, they donít go away, they get bigger. The easiest way to find out about problems is to listen when people complain about them. In fact, the fastest way to find out about problems is to encourage people to tell you when something is wrong (I never thought Iíd do that!) and reward them for doing it. ďThank you for telling me,Ē I find myself saying (and meaning it). ďI needed to know that.Ē ďThis could have turned into a real problem if you hadnít told me, thanks!Ē ďIím so glad you caught that!Ē In fact, problems are so much easier to fix when you catch them right away, you can usually turn what would have been a failure into a success. Therefore, criticism that helps you find and fix a flaw is better than flattery that ignores the defects in your work. Sometimes, criticism is a compliment. Sometimes, people tell you something is wrong because they believe you can make it right. Sometimes, when people criticize you, they do want you to feel bad, or they donít care how you feel. It really doesnít matter. You need information. Theyíre giving it. Listening to them doesnít mean you agree with what they are saying. Letting them say it doesnít make it so. They might have it all wrong. But there is information there, just the same. By listening, you might see that your actions can be interpreted in different ways and you need to explain yourself. You might see that you left some people out of the loop that should have been in it. Or, you might see that they do have a hidden agenda and you need to take that into account in your planning. Probably, though, they didnít fabricate their criticism out of whole cloth. Even when people insult you, they usually exaggerate your flaws instead of making them up. There is information that will help you even in an insult intended to hurt you. It is very important that you ignore the insult, at least long enough to get the information! Knowing how they feel about you (or at least what they say), you can try to clear up any misunderstandings. If that doesnít work, at least you know that they are not yet on your team and, if you need help, you need to look elsewhere. Donít filter your information for desired content. You need it all!
Next Section: If You Have a Choice, Don't Choose to Be Hurt
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