Friday, October 17, 2014

Is Providing Honest Opinions the Same as Having a Big Mouth?

I love October, and not just because I was born in this month. 

I love the feeling of change in the air. There is a freshness and crispness like no other season. It makes me think of chili and chocolate (though chocolate is always on my mind) and pumpkins. The sun glows differently too. Lower, and it feels softer on my face somehow.

The leaves are slow to change this year, it seems. Maybe because we’ve enjoyed some Indian Summer days these last few weeks. Hands down, watching the trees burn bright is one of my very favorite things.

Most of all, October signifies change to me. Do you feel it too?

I have noticed a change in myself recently. I am doing something, on occasion, that I never used to do. When asked for it, I am giving my (honest) opinion. And I am not doing it all the time. Baby steps.

In times past, my response to a question like “How did you like it?” might result in an enthusiastic gushing if I liked/loved whatever it was. If I had a negative opinion, I would respond, “It was good.” or “Fine.” Something extremely simple.

[If you are sick of hearing me talk about yoga, bear with me for a minute because I am baring my feelings here, and it is part of my change, I promise.]

After every class I take, which is usually 5 a week, the instructor asks for feedback. I sure hope they are asking because they really want to know because I have started to provide an honest assessment of how I felt about the class. After all, didn’t we just spent 60 minutes listening to him/her instructing us?

I am diplomatic. I choose words carefully. I believe in “it’s not what you say (usually), but how you say it (my kids are still tired of me relying on this phrase, though it is so very true)”. Plus, I am not a mean spirited person.

My problem is…

I think I got someone fired for giving my opinion. Well not fired fired, but removed as an instructor of the more advanced level Monday morning class. I confidentially provided honest and constructive feedback to the studio manager when she specifically asked what I thought of the class I’d just finished. Very nicely, but firmly I gave my honest opinion, which was the teacher in question did not instruct the class to the level expected. Not even close.

The instructor has never been on the studio schedule again. I feel more than a little crappy about it. My hope is she is at another studio teaching the level with which she is more suited. Still, I feel crummy.

I am going to continue taking baby steps toward speaking up when asked for my opinion when it’s negative, and I haven’t figured out a really good way to apply this change outside of Core Power Yoga in my “real” life, in particular, because I never want to hurt the feeling of those I care about. And forget about giving unsolicited advice. I will just keep quiet.

Would/do people ask for feedback if they really don’t want it? I am afraid of this…

12 comments:

  1. My superpower is the ability to hone in on that one tiny thing that is off, the thread on the shoulder of your lovely outfit. The lipstick on your teeth. My superpower has not led to popularity.

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    1. Hi Vanessa!
      Hahaha! It would take a crowbar to pry words out of me with regard to that stuff. I have become better at letting people know when they have spinach dip in their teeth but that's about it! I guess my superpowers would be the ability to stay tight lipped and diplomacy. I won't breathe a word, so your secret is always safe with me. I will let you down gently (usually through omission). It becomes a detriment at times when I should speak up and don't. Like everyone, I hate the negative. I am a work-in-progress for sure. Trying!

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  2. You gave an honest response to a question. You are not responsible here for what may or may not have happened. It would be different if you were gunning for the instructor, but you weren't.

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    1. I was gentle in my delivery as well. My guess now is I must not have been the only one to give such feedback.

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    2. OTOH, this just proves that you are trouble. :)

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  3. Negative feedback is always easier to hear if you make it seem easy to correct and if you provide suggestions for fixing it.

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    1. Michael, that's exactly what I did. I objectively told the manager how a student at this level expects/needs the class to be, and how this instructor did not meet them. I have very specific examples. AND I said it nicely.

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  4. Giving an honest opinion is much harder than people think. A lot of times people don't even realize how often they they tell little lies to avoid confrontation because it just comes automatically.

    The truth always has consequences, sometimes it's good, other times it's not so good. Either way, the truth needs to be free and the consequences that come with it must be accepted as something that was supposed to happen.

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    1. Ack!!! It is soooo hard! I often choose to omit my opinion or constructive criticism in favor of coming out and giving it for this reason. You're right that little white lies in order to prevent hurt feelings or avoid confrontation is an easier approach, but I'm trying not to go down that path (anymore).

      Everything always has consequences! One choice alters your path by voiding the ability to choose something else or a different fork. I like your last sentence. I am trying to give myself up to the idea that what is meant to happen does. We CAN affect what happens or can we? Is there another "force" at play here who has ultimate say over our paths? Our choices.

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