Criticism is good when it’s feedback (parenthetically speaking)

This comes under the heading of “If I knew then what I know now”.  

After years of hearing from Daru Maer, my friend and colleague, about how wonderful, creative and incredibly accomplished her daughter Jenn Maer was I finally got to verify that myself when I met Jenn last year.

I’m sharing Jenn’s article that appeared in the San Francisco Egotist because it is timely.  During the holidays we are particularly sensitive to other’s expectations, needs, wants and their “feedback”.  Jenn’s realization that feedback, most of the time, is given for precisely the reasons she identifies is spot-on.  I wish I knew that when I was Jenn’s age.

(Sorry Jenn, I couldn’t resist the parenthetical feedback) 

_________________

What I Learned in 2014: Jenn Maer, Design Director, IDEO

“This was the year I finally learned to take feedback.”

“Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been “addressing” feedback for my entire career. Early on, I mastered the art of smiling whenever somebody eviscerated my work—nodding thoughtfully while saying, “Hmm. Interesting. Let me have a think on that.” But until recently, I never truly meant it. Feedback was something to be dodged, outsmarted, and begrudgingly incorporated when pressed to do so.”

“I realize this makes me sound like a world-class a_ _ _ _ _ _ (Feedback: Sorry for the edit, Jen, but this is a PG 13 rated blog and your description is not appropriate for those of us emotionally under the age of consent). But I don’t think that’s the case: I love (and insist on) working collaboratively, I always look for opportunities to help other people shine, and I’m pretty easy-going all around. I think I just hated the feeling that I hadn’t done something perfectly right off the bat.”

“Then, after having a really enlightening conversation with a mentor of mine, something shifted in me. I would get a piece of feedback and listen to it. I mean, really listen to it. Like the kind of listening a therapist does, when you say, “I hate the color blue” and they hear you say, “I’ve got deep-seeded issues with my mother.” (Feedback:  Sorry Jen, your mother IS a therapist – how could you NOT have deep-seeded issues with her?)  (Sorry Daru, but since you are a therapist you know that all things lead back to the mother . . .)

“I stopped being so quietly, inwardly defensive, and realized that each piece of feedback is delivered in service of making things better. Now, with every comment or red-Sharpied suggestion, I ask myself, what’s behind the issue that’s being raised? How can I use this as a chance to make my work clearer, tighter, smarter, funnier…whatever it needs to be?”

“I’m not saying I’ve got this new skill down pat. There are certainly still moments when people make inane, counter-productive comments that make me want to bash their heads in with the Polycom. (Sorry Jen, but I don’t know what a Polycom is so if you want to bash in my head I hope it’s soft . . . ). But you know what? I’m learning to hear what’s beneath those comments, too. It’s usually something like, “I need to feel important here.” (Sorry Jenn, I am important here – it’s MY blog) Or, “I don’t know what’s happening and I’m freaked out about it.” And with a little bit of empathy, I can help them through those issues, as well.”  (Sorry Jen, if you don’t want to help me with my issue of compulsively commenting, maybe your Mom can?)

(ALL things are ultimately the mother’s fault –  You are one smart, insightful daughter)

Read more at San Francisco Egoist 

2 thoughts on “Criticism is good when it’s feedback (parenthetically speaking)

  1. Judy, Jenn’s article and realizations are nicely articulated, but as your younger brother, I can only say that no amount of constructive criticism will ever help me no matter how I accept it as all issues in my life are due to the fact the Mom liked you best.

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