Shake It Off

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I have three kids and they are my teachers. This is my oldest – 11 years old dreamer, lego builder and kayaker. A few weeks ago he participated in the local championship. He had bad results in solo and in team race they even did not finish – one of his two team mates felt in the water. It was cold and windy day. After they put their equipment back in place, I got some sweets from my car and went to find the boys to cheer them up. To my surprise, they were not disappointed at all, but instead planning to go to Berlin and be part of national team! “Berlin!? What Berlin? Wake up – you just got disqualified on local river!”- I screamed inside of me. I did say nothing out loud, but watched distanced their childish and untroubled behaviour.

A week later there was another competition. All three of them had good solo results and got qualified for Germany national championship. As a team they finished second and came home with medal. At first we did not believe our sons telling. Qualified for national races – yeah, right! But it turned out to be true. I shamed on me because I did not believe my child can achieve good results.

Short time ago I had talk at work. I am good with dealing feedback and criticism about my work – how I test, what I test, when I test. But this time it was about how I communicated. My first reaction was – this is not serious! I am very aware of importance of communication. One specific aspect of my interest is how we deliver feedback to stakeholders and by stakeholder I mean everyone on a team. But then I did the worst thing ever – I took it personal. Criticism was not about my work, it was about me as a person.

It took me few days, but than I remembered my son. I shook it off, analysed my communication as objective as I could, got second opinion and localised few weaknesses I want to work on for next few month. It is just one persons opinion and just one in row of many others. It is hard to stay professional if feedback is personal, but as my work experience grows, I see how greatly personality influences work issues. My next conference talk idea is to talk about trust – item, you can not put in contract, but what has huge impact in results.

3 thoughts on “Shake It Off

  1. Patrick says:

    Hi Kristine,

    that’s a very personal post, so thanks to publish it.
    Your post shows two important points.
    Feedback is important, and as we discussed on Slack, honest and constructive feedback helps to improve. Positive feedback is soul food and nonetheless important. Usually there’s always something that can be improved. So with “only” a pat on the back, you won’t improve the improvable parts. And only by getting the awareness it helps.

    The second part is how to deal with feedback. Take it, use it, stand up to it. If you take it personal you “kill the messenger”. It’s usually not the messenger’s fault for your imperfection that he wants you to be aware off. When transmitted in a friendly and helpful way, there is no reason to take it personal, except in taking it in to improve.

    What your son was doing is even something more. He got a bad result, but he still believed in himself and in his team. That’s fantastic and reminds me of, when you have set a goal that you really want to achieve, don’t loose it, don’t let yourself be thrown back, try again, try harder.

    Have a good long weekend, and all the best
    Patrick

    • Kristine says:

      Patrick, it is too cold here to have our long weekend as we planed. But it is not so bad, I have energy for other stuff – like writing post and preparing presentation.

      I like saying – the dogs bark, but the caravan goes on. Because there are always some barking dogs! The more you do, the more dogs bark. But as in every joke is part of true, you have to find out when dogs bark with and when without the reason. As I saw my son dealing with his disqualification, it came to my mind that I take things to serious and terminated.

      I am glad that you mentioned constructive feedback. In my extended company are people who practice it in daily work. Was very surprised to get to know it and put it on my “to learn” list. This is also one of the points I mean here in the post.

    • Kristine says:

      I saw conversation on Twitter the other day. It went wrong, they sort it out and at the end James wrote:

      “But still– communication is hard!” – it comes from experienced public speaker and teacher in testing! Testers keep saying that communication is the most important skill in testing, but we still fail and feel bad about it. Here my current theses on this – communication in general is not self-evident. We testers are just very sensitive on failures of communication, because we think we have to master it.

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