Feedback

Recently, people have had nice things to say about me. Some of these are cosmetic things, hair and clothes and the like. Some of them are about my writing, which fairly tickles me as I always assume I’m not that good as I just kind of sit down and throw out whatever comes to mind before massaging it into a better order. Some of the feedback I’ve been getting lately has been about how good a friend or partner I am. This last category means the most to me.

But I’m not just writing about the good today. Good feedback is nice, but it’s not always the most essential and formative stuff. Pressure makes diamonds. Negative responses are valuable as they let you know what other people don’t like, and will often lead you to fixing it. Generally this makes both sides happier.

And so I try to improve still, every now and then when a constructive comment comes in and it’s worth responding to. I figured a long time ago that I wasn’t perfect and that there was room for improvement in various areas. Some of it still stings though. Some people like to cut, then they like to throw a bit of salt at it.

Sometimes it feels like people don’t give feedback for genuine reasons of wanting to help out. Sometimes people are just negotiating hard and being destructive to bring down the price. Sometimes people have unrealistic standards. Sometimes they don’t realise that paying a small amount of money for something doesn’t entitle them to make a human person feel bad. People who work in retail or any other service I’m sure will relate. So what should be done about these people?

For a start, I propose that managers actually tell their staff when they think customers are unreasonable. I have been blessed with mostly good managers so this hasn’t been a huge problem for me, but I could definitely see feedback being used as an excuse to not pay someone enough. In addition, everyone could benefit from reading the book Fuck It by John C. Parkin. It’s a synthesis of Eastern and Western philosophy, which preaches the phrase ‘fuck it’ as the ultimate mantra for handling situations and dealing with stress. It’s a fantastic read for a philosophical underpinnings to the phrase.

Learning to say “fuck it” to life’s little irritants has made me a generally cooler person. I spend a lot less time fighting the stupid fights in my head. There are far more valuable things to think about without getting caught up on petty things.

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One final note on which to leave you. A former manager of mine was a very capable fellow. He had a brilliant way to slowing everything down, normally with the single word “Oh?”, followed by some non-verbal communication (hmms and ahhs), before finishing up with a “Right…”, and providing his solution. This is much more instructive when you watch it up close.

Anyway, I knew what was happening because I saw him do it multiple times a day. But to each individual who saw him he probably gave the impression of a uniquely focused and interested man. This semblance of caring very deeply and being very focused about a customer’s problem is probably the right one, provided you can come up with a solution at the end instead of just humming.

This manager had a brilliant expression on this topic: “Feedback is a gift;” and then when the begrieved parties  were out of earshot, “it can be accepted or rejected”.

 Constantly feeling like he’s bitten off more than he can chew, the writer wrote this piece on his day off and therefore naked.

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