Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I hate telling people off. I hate complaining. A meal where I have had to complain is, for me, a worse experience than a meal where the food is slightly below average, so I only tend to complain when the food is well below average.

After long heart-searching some years back two of us wrote to a minister who preached regularly and offered some quite severe criticisms of his work (it was well below average). We offered to discuss the matter and gave up time to talk and offered to help as best we could. We were rebuked back for the timing of our letter. The content was accepted but the timing was criticised as it was done at a time when the church was very busy with a special project. When is that not true?

Thing is, this seemed to make us feel equally complicit.

A work colleague and I once had a strong disagreement. We agreed to meet and talk it through after-hours over a cuppa. Within a few minutes I was told, vehemently, 'I'm sorry but you were wrong.' I responded that I felt the opposite and that was why we were meeting, although the other person had walked out on me before I reached the end of the sentence.

Later, having some mediation for the dispute, I received a full apology for the original problem (I had been right on this occasion) but was told, 'It was the way you said it.' I found myself being the one sending an apology card.

If you happen to be on the receiving end of a rebuke or criticism today, try not to counter-criticise. Especially if the counter-criticism is but a minor matter in the whole scheme of things. You'll learn far more by listening and reflecting.

I don't pretend I never make mistakes. I make loads. I share this to encourage all mistakes to be the back door to success. Which is why 'Review and learn' has to be item one on the agenda.

And by the way, if I do ever rebuke you, please be aware what a stress-inducing, gut-wrenching and time consuming effort it has been for me to get to that point.

1 comment:

Mike Peatman said...

It's Ok, Steve. Feel free - we'll still be friends afterwards!