Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Criticism And Rainbows With Chloe

All of us are sometimes criticized. It is sometimes referred to as constructive feedback to give it a more positive spin but it still feels like good old criticism. I have been criticized many times in my life and I admit that I didn't always take it very well. It's not because I think I am perfect. It more because I really strive to be perfect and to do the right thing. When someone tells me I am not reaching my goal or meeting an expectation, it hurts. I don't know if there is a painless way to receive and accept criticism. I do, however, believe there is often a painless and positive way to give constructive feedback. First of all you must always respect the dignity and feelings of the person on the receiving end. Constructive feedback can be presented in a gentle, even loving, way. Constructive feedback doesn't have to be presented with totally negative terminology. The reality of a situation can be presented in a non threatening way balanced with positive examples of how the situation could have been handled or how it might be handled in the future. I don't think any decent human being comes to work or does anything with the intention of making mistakes or doing poorly. In today's complex and highly technical work environments. the use of computers often make the possibility of errors more likely than not. Some management gurus, like W. Edwards Deming, believe that mistakes in the workplace are usually the blame of a system or process rather than the person. When was the last time a "system" or a "process" was put on a work improvement program? People seem like the only option for criticism, so they are usually given the blame. None of us are perfect and we do make mistakes and sometimes our mistakes may be carelessness. Sometimes we may need encouragement or some deserved criticism. If we deserve it, we need to be humble and accept that we have made a mistake or need to get our heads on straight. If we are the leader, the parent, or the friend, do it in a caring, non threatening way so the person walks away with some dignity and resolve to try harder. Encourage them. Don't break their spirit.

Yesterday was Tuesday so I had dinner with Princess Chloe. She was in a great mood and I was happy to see her. While at dinner there was one of those sudden summer rainstorms. We were seated right next to a window so we joyfully watched the downpour. Later, as we were parked in the Pharmacy drive thru picking up my monthly batch of pills, Chloe exclaimed, "Look, a rainbow"! There, outside the window on her side of the car was not one, but two very colorful rainbows arched across the sky. It was a beautiful sight and a reminder of the wondrousness of life and how magical moments can suddenly appear out of nowhere. I was proud of Chloe for seizing the moment and being present to the beauty and wonder of it. Maybe all the time she spends with me is influencing her in a positive way. Later, when she wanted to step on a bug, we had a difference of opinion on the value of all life. I need to work on that with her during our next dialogue.

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