Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Constructive Criticism vs Anonymity

I'm part of a group which is all about communication.  Specifically, it's about public speaking.  Each achievement requires a member to give speeches with specific goals in mind, whether it is using visual aids, being aware of body language, or word usage.  It's been very helpful to me in a number of ways, but I feel like I could get more out of it if only people were not afraid to give constructive criticism.

My assigned evaluator was very positive.  She gave me all excellent scores.  While it's satisfying to see that big A+, I know there was something that could have been improved.  There always is.  The interesting part is that each member can give a mini critique anonymously through these little feedback slips.  I get more insight from these than I do from the formal evaluations.  I'm told that most groups don't do the mini feedback slips.  We would really miss out, if we didn't.  I had a couple of people say it was a little difficult to follow from time to time, or they weren't really sure of the direction of my speech the whole time.  That's something I can work on.  I wonder why my evaluator did not offer anything to improve.

Maybe it is my art school, four-hour-critique background, or maybe it is from being in a leadership role, but criticism, when delivered sensitively, is wonderful.  Wouldn't it be nice if people didn't feel the need to hide behind a veil of anonymity to give it?  Do we need to teach people how to give criticism properly, and thereby show them that it is ok, or should we just make them sit through a few hours of grad students finding every flaw in their work?  Why is the former option more difficult than the latter?  Curious.

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