Getting Corrected

Quentin had some idea that Australians were fun-loving and easygoing, and if that was true he could why see Poppy had gotten the hell out of Australia. She had a bright, sharp manner and a quick little voice and a lot of confidence. She was especially confident when it came to pointing out other people’s mistakes. Not that she was a know-it-all-it didn’t seem to be an ego thing with her. She just assumed that everybody shared her desire for everybody to be clear on everything, and she’d expect you to do the same for her.
It was a personal tic of Poppy’s that she never seemed to lie when other people would. It was either tactless or admirable, depending on how you looked at it.
Grossman (2011)

One thing I have noticed over the years is that some people, especially those that are insecure in their position, do react badly if they are corrected. In fact, I did notice it when a superior in a former institute said to me «Daniel, I don’t want to be corrected by you.»

She did not say she wasn’t wrong, just that she did not consider me worthy of having any criticism.

At that time, it did sting.

I was new to academia, I did not know most of the implicit rules. But besides those implicit rules, here it did seem to be a personal issue … or dare I say: failure. Because let’s be honest, if you do not accept that other people do criticize your behavior, what kind of person do you think you are? Are you really without fail? Probably not.

Nobody is, I am not, you are not, those guys over there aren’t either.

Hmmm, and thinking about it when re-reading this half-written posting (should have waited until Saturday to write the last few), I wonder … how to provide feedback in a way that gets accepted? Because let’s be honest, if you see something that is wrong and say something, and it’s not taken up, you could have easily have shut your mouth and saved the energy.

And then the mistakes will be made. I saw that too when working for a large company when a department leader planned an event and miscalculated while talking out loud. There were a lot of people in that meeting who all looked at each other but nobody corrected her (she had a reputation for reacting baldly to being publicly corrected). Not something you want.

I guess while part is tone, I also think tone has limits. There are some people who see corrections as being undermined, especially those in power. Which are those people whose information and decisions should be correct.

Hmmm, something to think about.


Update: Some edits to clarify the content and adding the second part.