why those hard-to-hear words still matter
When a culture fails to receive criticism, it's in trouble. It fails to grow, or improve, or include others in its doings. It becomes insular, defensive and self-righteous. As an Editor, I see this all the time. It's my job to offer others feedback that is meant to signal two things: one, I care; and two, I see how things might be better. But I find in life and in work few people appreciate the use of the Red Pen.
Having an Editorial Eye is not limited to the written page. For instance, I'll offer a pastor feedback on his sermon, suggesting the use of visual aids is overdone. I'll suggest to the principal of my online school board that he encourage parents and students in person. I'll tell my property management firm to treat their clients with respect. You get the idea.
Sadly, nine times out of ten, these suggestions are not well received. You can imagine why.
Still, it's hard to stop offering critique. It's like I carry a Red Pen with me wherever I go.
I've noticed most people don't like having a Red Pen mark up their efforts. They just want to feel loved, appreciated and approved of—as is. Don't we all.
But I still think the hallmark of a mature, growing organization, or individual, or piece of written work, is the one who can invite constructive feedback. The one who says, "Thanks! How else can I make this better?"
Since the only reason I'm offering feedback is because I'm one of the people they are trying to reach, I assume my opinion is valuable. But, so far, I can name on one hand the people who relish the Red Pen. Half of them are writers, who know the difference a critical eye can make to any piece of work—written or otherwise. The other half are simply people who impress me a great deal.
Ah well, some jobs are thankless and leave you feeling unloved, unappreciated and unapproved of—don't I know it!
By Dayna E. Mazzuca