Are We Too Critical?

Relationships, Work & Money

La condition humaine au 21ème siècle NYC.andre via Compfight

I recently saw a documentary about heckling and criticism that made an incredible impact on me and I really started to think about how critical our society has become.  It also reminded me that I need to be more aware of how I talk to people and express my opinions.

When I saw this movie, I was reminded about many of the conversations that I have had with other people and how poorly I communicated my criticism of their work/ideas.  I am not proud of those moments, and looking back with 20/20 vision, I would like to think that I would handle them differently.  But I still make those mistakes from time to time.  I think we all do.

I think that we all have the capacity to forget that the people BEHIND the avatars online or the movies and books we read have emotions.  When the need arises and we have to criticize someone’s work, we can forget that there is a fine line between giving our opinions and crushing someone’s feelings.

Check out this trailer for Heckler (available on Netflix – affiliate link)

I know that are going to be times when you have to provide your opinion on an idea or piece of work, and you should always be honest, but honest criticism does not always have to be harsh or negative.  Any criticism you give should always be tempered with the other person’s emotions in mind.

Simple Solution to Provide Criticism of Someone’s Work / Ideas

1. Always Provide Honest and Direct Feedback

2. Your Feedback Should Also Include Suggestions to Make Improvements

3.  Before and After Your Speak…LISTEN to What the Other Person Has to Say

4.  Follow Up Afterwards to Provides Support and Encouragement

I know that all this MAY sound a little Politically Correct, but if it’s all about relationships we have to work at communicating or dislikes as easily as our likes…and not steamroll over people’s feelings in the process.

Are We TOO Critical?

From Twitter and Facebook to Blogs and Websites, the Internet has allowed millions of people the opportunity to become self-proclaimed critics.  And all too often, to seek polarity and page hits, their reviews go negative.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.

I have a friend, Lou, he is a blogger and he is one of the most positive people I know! His posts are positive, his podcasts are positive and his tweets are positive.  It’s just how he chooses to live.  Even when someone wrongs him, he stays positive.  Trust me on that one…

Our culture THRIVES on negativity.  Listen to the political pundits (on BOTH sides) during the last Presidential Campaign.  When was the last time you heard one of them say “I think that the only way this candidate can win is to go POSITIVE?”

Negativity is everywhere: newspapers, magazines, blog posts, tweets, updates… We have become a harsh society.  Because it’s so easy to be this way.  It takes a lot of work to stay positive and communicate with grace and poise.

It may sound old fashioned, but the Golden Rule still applies…  Treat others as you would like to be treated.  From the living room to the board room, it’s still the best advice around!

It’s Time to Step Back and Think

I think we should all take a few minutes and self-evaluate the conversations we are having and try to find ways to improve the WAY we communicate to our friends, families, and co-workers.

If our culture is to blame for all this negativity…it’s time to change the culture.  We are responsible for the words we say and the way in which we speak.  It’s time to take back the our culture and change the way we communicate.

We must choose to be positive.  I am tired of the negative talk…  It’s all up to us…. Will you join me?

What’s the most negative this you have ever seen or read?

Keeping Customers Happy Even When You Totally Mess Up


I recently learned a great leadership lesson from Netflix, the company that offers online flat rate DVD and Blu-ray Disc rental-by-mail and video streaming through gaming devices.  We’ve been trying Netflix out for the past few months and had an issue with them last week that did not allow us to watch anything online through our Wii.

We were disappointed, but did not think too much about it.  And then I received this in my inbox:


I was completely blown away by their depth of customer service.  For all intents and purposes, Netflix is a web-based company that is fairly turnkey: they upload the movies and TV show, provide the proper coding, and as long as I am paying my monthly fee, the content is electronically sent to my house.  There is not too much human to human interaction.  And when something goes wrong, I would expect very little by way of acknowledgement.

But they not only acknowledged the problem, they went above and beyond to keep me as a customer; extending my trial period for another day because of the day of service I had lost.

Do we go this far in our companies to keep current and future customers?

We’ve all had problems with services or products within our own companies, and our customers have been the unwitting victims.  And when they bring the problem to our attention, we all usually address it and resolve it as soon as possible.

But do we actively pursue those customers who have had a product or service problem that never brings it to our attention?

In other words, what is our strategy for keeping customers when our systems fail?

Someone at Netflix has built a system that reacts when service is interrupted or there is a failure, and is proactive in resolving the problem in an extremely timely manner.

Thank you Netflix for being a customer service leader in your industry and for helping us to learn a valuable lesson in customer service and satisfaction.