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Armchair critics

June 13, 2011 — by Daryll Scott0

We all love to have an opinion, there is a very satisfying feeling associated with making sense of a bit of the world, whether we do that out loud or internally.

We are also happy to do this when we are really clueless – and some people form opinions about the clueless stuff with the same degree of certainty a the less clueless stuff.

This can really get in the way of creating something great.

Sometimes, having been employed as an ‘expert’ I then get feedback from the people who have employed me. For example, they may assess or rate my coaching methods. When they do i smile and say, “Thank you.” resisting the temptation to say, “Thanks very much, how do you know?” (I’m not being funny – It’s a genuine question)

It’s like ‘happy sheets’ handed out at the end of training sessions. All we can really find out is ‘did you have a nice time?’ because every other question is either the subjective evaluation of an armchair critic or a gaze into an unreliable crystal ball.

Why ask, ‘will you use what you have learnt?’ when you can wait a month and ask ‘did you use what you learnt?’

I’m not complaining, whenever I am evaluated I tend to do very well. It’s just that they are not really about effectiveness and, unless the feedback is specific, I find it difficult to get any value from it.

I have a simple policy for employing other people – choose people that you trust, and then trust them! Value their guidance and opinion and get out of their way so that they are free to perform at their best.

I’ve decided it would be fun to begin doing the armchair critic. Next time someone does a bit of IT wizardry that is completely beyond my awareness, I’m going to give them a clueless critique what they did and how they did it.

In terms of your ability to deliver exceptional results – other people’s opinion is a hinderance not a help. (This excludes the opinions of people who do know what you are doing and are able to offer specific descriptions – that feedback is gold dust.)

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