The Mirror, Darkly

If you want honest and open feedback, then you must prevent yourself from opposing criticism and supporting praise.

The natural reaction is to reward and encourage behavior that pleases us, and punish and discourage behavior that irritates us. If feedback is to be more than others parroting what they think you wish to hear, you must take the utmost care. You must not respond when people speak ill of what you have done. You must not defend your actions. You must not justify your decisions. Remaining silent, or acknowledging that the criticism exists, is the most that can be done. You must not respond when people speak highly of what you have done. You must not say they are right. You must not return their praise with more praise. Remaining silent, or acknowledging that the praise exists, is the most that can be done.

People complain for many reasons. The most valuable reason is that they care deeply about the subject on which they’re giving feedback. The best medicines are often bitter. If you build a wall to shield yourself from worthless complaints, you shield yourself against the truth as well. It is easiest to block out that which you do not want to believe is true.

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3 Responses to “The Mirror, Darkly”

  1. One reason I like to express disagreement and complaint is because of the feedback it gets. I stopped commenting as much at UR when I found that MM wasn’t reading or responding.

  2. Was MM actively seeking out feedback?

  3. At one time he was and invited people to e-mail him as well. He developed a big backlog of unanswered mail though. Also he got married and had a kid.

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