Friday, November 30, 2007

Porcupines, skunks and criticism

An interesting observation by author Tess Gerritsen is asking others to defend you from criticism can come across as "whiny and desperate" in addition to revealing how vulnerable you are. Comment in reference to author Patricia Cornwell asking supporters to come to her defense on, and grief she took for it. Tess decides not to react or ask for help against her own critics - even if really wants to.

Example she gives is her pet donkeys who end up with porcupine quills because they decide to attack their attacker. Comments to her blog post include these quotes: "Never get in a pissing contest with a skunk"; and "Never wrestle with a pig; you'll just get dirty and the pig will love it."

It's really difficult to walk away from criticism, not respond or expect others to come to defense. Maybe no response is the best response? When I don't respond seems assumption is must not have received - and get it forwarded again a day later. Sometimes a response to criticism just generates another (or endless) round of the same; but can bring new clarity (I think). Sometimes I respond "really appreciate you took the time to tell us what makes you unhappy" with no comment on comment itself. Hmm ... will have to think about this.

As association executives, do we have responsibility to always respond to member criticism? Is it okay (or mistake) to ignore if personal criticism vs. association decision/program criticism?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, I am thinking about that last question--what do you mean by personal criticism? If you mean somebody says, "I don't like the way you wear your hair, you have no sense of style"....well, I'd probably ignore that criticism (I've been doing that for years...). But if someone said, "I think you get entirely too caught up in the trivial aspects of association management," I might have to think about that and perhaps modify my personal management style. Both are personal comments, of course, but one is infinitely more pertinent to my value system than the other. The other element to consider is the source: if the management style observation was made by someone I considered a consummate good administrator (like, say, Bud Smith) I sure would listen. If the hair comment was made by the ultimate blonde bimbo, I'd probably pretend like I didn't hear anything--or smile with deceptive sweetness and swallow an obscenity.