Sundae desserts – some critical thinking

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I had an interesting discussion this week on the role of criticism.

Most of us accept that some criticism is part of life. After all a bit of constructive criticism, and making a few mistakes, allows us to be better next time.

It lets us know we need to improve, where to focus, and is most likely the fastest way to get there too.

All very logical and rational. The right thing to say, right?

But, let’s be honest for a minute… do any of us really like being criticised? Do any of us really like giving criticism, especially if it hurts people? Most of us find it much harder than we admit… we are after all social animals, and not fitting in hurts.

There is a fly in my soup

There is of course some validity to this hesitation to complain… upsetting the chef in a restaurant, for example, may not be the best idea right before they are about to provide you your meal?

But logically… why would they get ever upset if the constructive criticism helps them get better?

Of course having poured your heart into making a meal, completing a project, and overcoming significant obstacles to get there, any criticism can always be hard to take… what do they know, they may not even know how to cook!

What is your threshold?

And, if you are doing the criticising… is there, or should there be, a threshold to a complaint… when do I send the food back and make a scene vs not. When should I just grumble under my breath never to eat there again!

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In the case of shockingly poor service, interestingly it is the complaint actually lets them know something is wrong, affording an opportunity to recover. In the case of the mediocre service, the silent grumble, business just melts away never to return… in the end who is better off?

A moaning manifesto

So this week I am proposing a manifesto for moaning or at least some rules for healthy complaining.

  1. Everyone has the right to complain, just like everyone has the right to an opinion
  2. Complaining should be easy, make it quick and easy to give and receive feedback
  3. Don’t blame the team, individuals, or company for getting it wrong. It is about focusing to improve, looking forward not back
  4. Be specific and objective in any feedback. Support and suggest ideas to help
  5. Act on feedback, it is after all an opportunity to recover and engage customers
  6. Just because you complain, it doesn’t make you right. You are not wrong, but may not fully understand the complexities or frequency of the event
  7. Remain humble, constructive and rest assured your opinion is valued

Easy to say, hard to do? Maybe… but off to give it a whirl.

Have a good week everyone


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