Creative work is some of the most important work that we can do. It can also be the hardest. When you pour part of yourself into your work, you open yourself up to criticism. You can tie yourself in knots anticipating the feedback, critiques and suggestions of others. You can try for perfection, or you can put off the work until the time is right and you are in the space to get it done. In the long run, you are engaging in avoidance and sabotage. In no way do you escape the worst critic of all.
Pretty much any time the topic of team building has come up, it’s a fairly safe bet that I’ve taken a shot at Tuckman’s model of group development. You likely know it as “forming, storming, norming and performing.” While conceptually appealing (and hey, it rhymes, so what’s not to like?) what it describes is lots of theory, unsupported by the practical substance of how teams and groups actually develop. Sadly, that hasn’t stopped it from being cited with ridiculous frequency, and hold a dominant place in the collective minds of leaders everywhere. There is an explanation as to why this happened. There are also many other models with which to replace it.
The internet is an easy place to speak your mind, without consideration of the consequences of how it will be received. Escalation happens easily. Flame wars erupt without thought. It’s all too easy to hear something you don’t like, lash out, and admonish someone to “stay in their lane.” But is it right? Is it reasonable? Is it appropriate? And what you should do when you’re on the receiving end?
Whether consultants or employees, we all have clients that we serve. We advise, advocate, support and sell. How we do that depends on our attitude and our orientation. It is shaped by how we show up in our work, and how we engage with those around us. We have a choice in that. And we forget that at our peril.
Constructive criticism very often isn’t constructive. We also tend not to receive it well, even when it’s well-meaning—and sometimes even when we ask for it. Part of the problem is with our use of the word “should.” It is a word of judgement, criticism and deflection We probably shouldn’t use it quite as frequently as we do.
Feedback is an essential part of the work cycle. It’s also something that all of us struggle to receive constructively. Once we’ve put our heart and soul into our work, we are often highly resistant to changing it. An alternative perspective is required.