It’s one of those classic questions at an interview: describe one situation where someone criticized your work, and how you reacted to it. Or you know, it could be something similar to that. Criticism is one of those things that we need to be able to take. Or is it?
Looking at anything that anyone can say about you, you can dump their comments in two bins: useful stuff and useless stuff.
As long as you can separate the two, then you’ll always be okay at dealing with criticism. When people give you useful criticism, like how you could improve this or that or what you made a mistake on, well, if it’s useful, you should learn to take it well.
But if the criticism is useless, well. Then you can ignore it. Hot air doesn’t really do anything to you, right? Stick and stones do. And if they’re doing it just because they feel better by trying to make others feel low, then you can even tell them to fuck off. In the rare Scenario C, you might need to use a drop kick on them, and repeat as necessary.
It happened the other day that a friend of mine apparently was in a bad mood and just started criticizing every little thing that I brought up in conversation. Blatantly. Thing after thing.
I let it all slide for over an hour and a half because I had other guests over and we managed to keep it more or less subtle and civil, but this wasn’t normally how this person acted and to be frank I was quite shocked.
First of all, it’s not that I don’t make mistakes in life. I do. Everyone does. But I accept responsibility for my mistakes whenever I do make them, because they occur because I put myself in situations where I can fail. I mean, you never know until you try right? I know I’m being vague, but that’s because I’m not thinking about any particular mistake.
The only time you react badly to criticism is when you are incapable of sorting it into the useful or useless bin. Reacting badly to criticism doesn’t necessarily mean that you blow your top and tell someone off—telling someone off can at times be the right reaction to criticism, if the criticism is unfounded.
If they’re right, accept the criticism.
If they’re wrong, you can either A) endure it or B) call them on it. Depends on the situation.
Back to that situation.
Sometimes, people are just being assholes. They really are. And I understand that some days, the world is not your oyster—and as a friend, I want to be there for you when you need someone to vent with. But don’t attack me. Unless I’m the source of your pain, don’t attack me. There is a big difference between constructive criticism about ongoing projects and personal attacks.
Even in your hurt, that doesn’t give you the right.
When my friends are hurting, I do one of two things. I support them, I help them, I hope for them—and they get better, or they at least put in efforts to do so and be enjoyable people. Or, option B), we stop being friends.
I was having a conversation the other day with SiB and to be honest, although he always gets a lot of flak in my circle of friends, and it’s true that I make fun of him too, but I have a great deal of respect for him because he’s honest. He is without a doubt one of the most honest people I know, if not the most honest.
It’s not easy to be honest. I tell people what I think and here on a public blog that’s exploded in my face a couple of times. At some point I asked people that I know personally to just not read anything they find here anymore because too often I was just being taken out of context—or, they were just hearing more than they wanted to hear.
It’s funny, how that is, isn’t it? How when it comes to the truth, we have such a want of a reputation of being truth seekers, but really, there are things that we don’t want to know. And when we do know it, oftentimes, it’s not even that the truth hurts—so much as that we feel betrayed by the people who know it, or who made it real in the first place.
My modus operandi as of the past couple of years has been to be as truthful as I can. I don’t need to go out of my way to tell everyone everything I think at all times, but, if you ask me, if I agree to tell you, it will be the truth. My idea is that if we’re friends, you’ll accept that this is what I think. Your choices aren’t limited to ‘take it or leave it’ when it comes to who I am—you can try to convince me otherwise, but, just as I accept responsibility for what I think and what I do, so too must you accept responsibility that if you ask me what I think or what I did that you might not always get the answer you want.
I was talking to SiB on the subject of trust. I can say that implicitly, I trust SiB. I don’t think he’d ever backstab me, and I would take that faith in him and walk the mile. Despite the things he does with his personal life, he understands my way of life and he’d never do anything that he thought would compromise what I view as my sense of integrity based on my values. And I think that’s what allows me to trust him so much—not just that I can expect him to operate on his values, but that when he’s thinking about how something will affect me, he’s going to put himself in my shoes to see what I’d want and what I’d expect. I’d do the same.
Regardless of the tailored relationship that we have though, we do subscribe to something similar to a “Bro Code.”
The interesting thing about the Bro Code is that we never had to really put it into words. I mean, sure, there are some easy parts: “Bros before Hos” is a classic.
But for a lot of it, we just know what would be wrong and right, our moral compasses tell us more or less which way is North.
Time: 5:37 AM
Morale: Pissed off
There was a father at work today who got in my face.
They do that sometimes. While I was having my argument with him, I came out from behind the window at pre-triage so that I could stand face to face with him in the hallway. It’s a body language trick, sort of—don’t let stand while you sit because it makes them think that you’re smaller than them. Look them straight in the eyes, keep your hands where they can see them.
When it comes to situations where aggression are involved there’s two things you want to do. The first is to make sure you’re in as good a position as possible to physically defend yourself if things get ugly. The second is to remove the emotion (in this case, aggression) from the person who you’re confronting.
Removing the aggression from someone is done in one of three ways—drawing on their sympathy and better judgment; quashing their aggression with your own; or, using both. Basically, good cop, bad cop, or both at once.
You can cup your hands together in front of you at chest or stomach level, but you do not cross your arms and you do not make fists. Crossing your arms is defensively unadvisable if the person decides to take a swing at you, and making fists just gives off entirely the wrong body language. Cupping your hands together puts you in a good defensive position while still giving you the appearance of being understanding and sympathetic. Surprisingly, leaning slightly against a wall is better than standing right in front of it, because at least you know where the wall is and leaning gives you a more friendly, more casual feel than standing straight with your legs apart. Details, anyhow. Just one way of doing things.
“Congratulations! Children die in this country because hospitals here will not feed children! I hold you responsible!”
He must’ve mistaken me for the Minister of Health or something. (I knew they should have printed my title larger on my nametag.)
I got into a bit of a one sided argument with him. One-sided, in that he was the only one arguing—I wasn’t arguing with him at all, I was just telling him how things work out here.
“I understand that it’s frustrating, but the fact is, your son is not the only person in this waiting room who has a fever and who hasn’t been eating.” I spare him the details about how long a human can actually live without food. “The triage nurse has seen you, his condition has not worsened—at this point, you are doing the right thing by just waiting for treatment. You are in the right place.”
“I am NOT in the right place! My son will die in this waiting room? This is Canada! This isn’t Africa or China! In my country, we will be seen in 15 minutes.”
This is the first time I get the “back in my country” argument in a hospital setting, in this scenario. The obvious rebuttal is “well, then what the fuck are you doing in Canada?”
But to point out that people don’t accept responsibility for their choices is just… too easy.
The fact is, nobody asked that his son get sick. Lets make one thing clear—asshole as his dad is, I would never say that his son deserves it because his dad is an asshole. I’m not blaming the father for his son’s illness. We will treat the kid. But we will treat him in turn. And I do hold the father responsible for his attitude. Apparently, I’m a baby killer for telling a father that his son needs to wait in the waiting room.
Tonight, I was the better man. I held my ground. I didn’t burst. I didn’t tell him off. I hit him with a cold dose of reality whenever I could but I didn’t raise my voice, I didn’t in the slightest be aggressive. I really felt sorry for him because I gave him every opportunity to save face and just be reasonable; I didn’t poke or stab at him at all, I apologized, I sympathized, I listened. But he didn’t appreciate any of it.
It’s hours later though, and I still feel my fingers twitching. Apparently, during my 2 hours sleeping break, they also harassed my coworker, and eventually decided to leave the hospital without being seen.
That’s the most retarded thing one can ever do, especially when you’re really concerned about your son. What, is this a pride thing? What’s more important, that your kid eventually gets treated, or that your ego is satisfied?
Oh yeah, he sure showed me by leaving. (I obviously am not going to get my coordinator’s commission now.)
And that is what I call a bad parent.
He isn’t a bad parent because he brought his kid to Emergency—kids get sick. It’s what they do. He’s a good parent for recognizing signs of concern, and bringing his kid in. He isn’t a bad parent for getting frustrated with the system—it is far from perfect.
But he is a bad parent for not being able to swallow his pride and stay, especially when he thinks his kid is in as bad a situation as he thinks he is. He is a bad parent because his behavior jeopordizes his son’s health—and for that, my fingers are tingling. They want to make fists.
Sometimes people make me so angry that I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I cannot calm down, and I feel it eating away at me like the Dark Side.