Something has been bothering me about Student Affairs Professionals and myself. I haven’t been able to pinpoint it until I saw a conversation on the Twitters last night.
I realized what was bothering me was the inability of #SAPros to take criticism, regardless the form, be it harsh, constructive, inclusive, exclusive, personal or professional.
Now, I’m definitely on the struggle bus with it, and am working everyday to really embrace feedback and critiques; good bad, ugly, harsh or soft. It always hurts and hard to hear, but its needed. Even the most gracious and humble #SAPro struggles with feedback and criticism.
But perhaps the question is why does it hurt and sting? Why do we immediately get defensive, find excuses, pass on the blame?
I think it’s because, at least of the #SA field, we put our blood, sweat, tears and heart into our work, our students and even in supporting each other. Often times we make sacrifices for our work that we probably would never have made in another field. To critique this type of work we also critique the individual. Sometimes you can’t critique the work without critiquing the person, and vice versa.
Its this personal nature of our work and dedication that we find taking criticism hard. We see people throwing up the walls and defenses to avoid a blast of feedback. We end up nitpicking the way feedback was given, and therefore dismissing the information because it has provided too harshly or not put into a specific style. We pass the blame to someone or something else for the actions in order to divert the conversation and critiquing to them/it. We fight criticism with criticism and begin a “well, you do this wrong” or “this is whats wrong with you/it” war.
In a field where we look at ourselves as educators the ability to be wrong or that we could still improve something that we thought was perfect is a hard pill to swallow. It is tough to acknowledge and take responsibility that we are not only educators but also students. We have to acknowledge the good, bad and ugly not only in others but in ourselves. We have to be open to learning and understanding one another and to be patient and know that we are each individuals with different strengths, love languages, communication styles and histories. We need to be honest and not be afraid to give criticism but also be strong and wise enough to ACCEPT criticism as well. And sometimes it is just hearing the feedback or information inspite of the delivery method or individual delivering it.
I’ll be honest, I don’t really have an ending for this, other than after pondering this for a few days I’m trying even harder to reflect and make changes to help me learn and understand myself and others in order to be better prepared to take feedback and criticism from others and myself. And so the #strugglebus continues (but at least it just got a new detail job with a panda on the side :))
Until next time!
Peace, Love and Pandas!