There is a saying I hear more and more often these days – it is only the one who doesn’t work that makes no mistakes. But more often than not, this phrase is uttered by the people making the mistakes and not the ones observing them. More and more we are judged for our actions at every single step – by our clients, by our team mates, by our families. Everyone seems to have a better solution, is eager to point out our errors and quick to raise a brow. Do it this way! You should have …! Oh, this is not a good idea … let me tell you how to do it! Someone does it better! You are wrong! Or simply starting their answer with two words that are clear and hard barriers to any genuine connection: No and But.
In an environment where change is even more the norm than it already was, where our faces are masked and our instincts of closing in on our fellow humans are restrained, criticism, delivered this way, is a handful of salt thrown on an open wound. It stings so much that any beneficial effects are completely overshadowed.
I am not advocating a blind acceptance of what is around us, without expressing our own opinion. Tell me more! I wonder what is behind this decision? Can you explain your thinking to me? are invitations for me to explain my thinking to you, share my ideas and, what is even more important, listen to your point of view sharing another perspective which might in fact help. Win, win!
There is a caveat though. If this worldwide crisis has one lesson to teach us all, that is that we are one and there is no “other”. That empathy is needed for the survival of our species.
We cannot simply do lip-service to these questions. Unless we are able to quiet the ego pushing us to raise that brow and genuinely zero in on the human in front of us and their words, unless we authentically care and listen to understand and not to retort, unless we are able to put all of this behind our questions, we might as well register ourselves in the categories of critics who don’t count.