Thursday, November 7, 2013

Not me!

Practice in a group for any length of time, and eventually you’ll hear the instructor say that all of you are doing something wrong.  This comes in many forms, from “I’m seeing a lot of X” to “you’re all doing it wrong”.

As a student, it’s hard sometimes to hear that, especially if the critique is about something I *know* I was doing correctly.  Didn’t they see I was doing it the right way? It can be frustrating.  Mind you, sometimes it might be a comment about something I’m not thinking about, and even if I am doing it correctly, it’s good to be reminded to be aware of it.

I strongly caution those who feel the need to defend themselves, though.  If you weren’t doing what the group was accused of, let it go.  Realize that the comment is delivered *en masse* for efficiency, not so much accuracy.  If you’re bothered at not being recognized for doing it right, consider the next point.

From the instructor’s side, if I have a group of 20 people doing a drill and 80% are doing something wrong, I’m not going to point out the 4 people that are doing it right; I’m just going to say that the group is doing it wrong.  Those four people will be fine.  I try to choose my words carefully, so if 50% are doing it right, I’ll say so.

The issue is when a student says “well I was doing it right.” in response to a group critique.  Things get awkward.  They obviously want recognition for their competency, but it’s not about them, it’s about the majority that needs to fix something.  There’s ego at play there, in a way that disrupts the importance of the message.  I find that the person who’s prone to speaking up like that has trouble taking direct critique later, in one way or another.  They tend to go hand-in-hand.

When critique is given to an entire group that you’re in, sometimes you have to suck it up.  If you feel you’ve been “wronged”, you need to ask yourself, is it so important that you need to take time and focus away from the message by speaking up? Or can you absorb the message and continue to do it correctly?  If it’s something big that you’re constantly doing well, you might get recognition for it – but if you keep “defending” yourself, odds are that’s less likely to happen.

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