Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How Do YOU React to Criticism?

I was offended today. I spoke to a woman I am acquainted with about the new program I'm working on at my job that I'm pretty excited about because I thought she may want to lend some of her expertise to help.  Instead, she totally shot me down- and then reloaded.

The Pre-Criticism Phase:

Criticism hurts most when it's directed at a place we're a little insecure.  For me, it began when I shared with someone I THOUGHT I respected my intent to create a "Garden Club" which will meet in our new state-of-the-art Ed Center each month.  I didn't want to host a generic club based on an outdated 1910 model so I'm blazing a new trail.

My concept turns the old-school model on it's head and is completely modernized- including updated topics (like how to 'upcycle' furniture finds or build the 'curb appeal' of your home),  use of online resources and creation of a unique volunteer leadership structure for the Club.  I even get to bring in a SUPER AWESOME DUO (hint, hint) to speak at the kick-off event in June and several mini-class teachers who I'm still figuring out but I'm sure they'll be great!  Have budget, will spend it!

Can you see I'm excited?  Excitement can sometimes be bad because it causes me to ASSUME that others will be equally excited.  Not true.

I shared my idea with someone I thought may help but it turns out she thinks it's an AWFUL idea that is sure to fail.  She thinks it's too "homemaker-ish" which is apparently uncool.  None of THAT offended me per se, though I was disappointed by the quick dismissal.

The Offended Phase:

While I can respect that what I propose isn't her cup of tea, it was the stuff she shared next that had me dropping my jaw. In her opinion women here in Utah and, in Mormon culture in general, are too repressed. To her, a DIY-style Home and Garden Club is a step backwards in the progress of women and is DEMEANING to women. It's also too "Mormonish" of a thing to do. Really?  REALLY???!!!!

I just deleted the paragraph where I freak out about the ridiculousness of that assumption- add your own comments about that opinion in your brain.  I'll wait...

Suffice it to say, I was offended!

And I blew off some steam- but not in front of her because that would have been inappropriate (showing some of that repression I may have mistaken for social graces).

And then I calmed down after awhile.

And then I started second guessing myself.

What the heck am I doing, anyway?

The Pathetic Phase:

The next phase of me responding to criticism devolves to the pathetic point where I start to doubt the previous excitement/decision.  And myself.  In this case, I don't think for a moment that she's right about things which are 'Holly Homemaker' being demeaning.  She's welcome to her opinion and I'm welcome to think that it's a pile of #*@&^.

No, the pathetic part is that I let it smash my confidence and allowed her disdain of my idea to feel personal (she did not intend it as a personal attack on me) and, worse, make me feel inferior.  Eleanor Roosevelt would be so disappointed!

I think the concept is still good but the weak link is ME!  She never called into question my competence to do it, at least not to me, but her aversion made me think perhaps I CAN'T do it?  This is "Cool Girls Table" stuff and I'm never going to qualify to sit at there!  I'm nearly 40 but had those old Jr. High feelings of inadequacy creep right back in.  PATHETIC!

The Butt- Kicking Phase:

Ultimately, she did me a HUGE favor today because the Butt-Kicking Phase can't be activated unless I go through the Pathetic Phase first.  Besides:

Point 1. It's always good to question yourself before chancing a public belly flop. I truly COULD flop. And I just might!  Worse, I may drag anyone who WAS willing to help into that teaming pool of shame and I'd feel bad about that.

Point 2. She did not CAUSE the self-doubt. It has been a huge issue for me my whole life and I have to own it.  I shouldn't be surprised that it reared it's ugly head when I was feeling vulnerable- and fat. The lady in question is tall, thin, fit, rich and gorgeous and those are 5 words that will never be used to describe me! I might be feeling a bit of the old Jr. High nerd emotions again!

Point 3.I don't like feeling like this.  I'm going to wallow in it for a day or two though because I'll need to be well and truly primed for The Butt-Kicking Phase!  The gal today not only thinks the program (and, by extension, me) will fail but that I can't do it at all without the help of her friends and connections. It will be harder but that's only going to make it sweeter!

Nothing fires me up like being told I can't do something that's important to me.  Lord knows this isn't the first time someone thought my ideas were dumb.! And in saying that I'll going to totally ignore the fact that sometimes my ideas ARE dumb and just say that they're also spot on- sometimes. It remains to be seen if this will be one of those times or not.

I've wanted to pull a group like this together for a decade and I'm so excited I finally get to do it.  I'm not going to let a bit of criticism from someone with a chip on their shoulder get in the way of a long-time goal- because THAT would be REALLY pathetic!


tammy said...

I have no doubt you can do this and can't wait to hear about it's success! I hate when my insecurities come out.

Garden of Egan said...

I think it sounds like a fabulous idea and I wish I lived close enough that I could be involved.

Mormonish? Really? Heaven forbid that we're associated with anything like that.

Yikes! Some people need to just stay home. (ya, I guess you touched a nerve with me as well....I work with someone like that and it's irritating to say the least)

BeCr8iv said...

I often think it is funny when someone rips on DIY stuff. Think about how you feel when you have completed a big DIY project. That sense of accomplishment is REAL and confirms that God put us on this earth to create. Bummer for her that she hasn't figured it out yet.

Barbaloot said...

I'm with Tauna---how is it a bad thing to be "Mormonish." That being said---homemaker and Mormon weren't the two words that came to mind when I read your idea. Mostly I thought there are a lot of women out there who would like something like that and how it seems like so many people today like learning DIY things more than paying someone else to do it. I say move forward!!

Cherie said...

Women like that are shallow, arrogant and have their brain stuffed in a one-way tube.
Obviously she has some issues - about Mormons? About the state she lives in? About her own competence in this area perhaps?
Whenever someone shoots down someone else's idea and then follows up by bad mouthing a whole group of women then you gotta know that the failure is on her end - not yours.
Only Mormon, Homemaking type women garden? I think not. How ridiculous.
You go for it! I think it is a fantastic idea that would really take off.
Just as a side note: I read somewhere that women, who are more "worldly" are attracted to LDS women blogs, can't get enough of them. I think it is because YES we are women and we do like to make our homes AND Gardens nice. They like to read about how we handle our homes, our family life, give service - they want it.

Soooo - Go for it!! When it is a success you can give her a quiet nod of triumph.

Natasha said...

Well, I for one, am super excited and I totally want to be involved in this!

Amy said...

I didn't think your idea sounded "mormonish" or "homemakerish" at all. I think it sounds interesting. I would like to be part of the garden club even though I have a pathetic excuse of space.

Criticism can be good but not when the intent is to belittle and degrade the other person. Go show her just what a great success you can make of the garden club.

susette said...

I think this woman is jealous of your idea and wishes she would have thought of it herself, but instead has to tear you down to make herself feel better. What a shame. She has some growing up to do.

Kelly said...

Great analysis. I think we all have a bit of the junior high insecurity in us. It probably never goes away. I definitely have it too.

But, when you believe in something as much as you do, you will succeed. It isn't selling something. Your passion will illuminate the way for many others. You go girl. Follow your dreams.

elesa said...

Oh man, that is so me. My insecurities kick me in the butt sometimes.

But I'm excited to hear how this turns out. And that lady just sounds dumb.

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

Out here in California, upcycling and DIY as well as anything that supports sustainable gardening, organics or anything "green" is very hip, very cool and not even remotely associated with women's issues. Your criticizer has myopia based on where she lives. Sign on to Pinterest and you'll see that your idea is part of the "cool girls table".

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Messy Jess said...

I love how you divided this into phases...can't wait to hear the rest of the story! You can do it!

Brianna said...

I agree with Babaloot....homemaker and Mormon are not the two words that came to MY mind either. When you initially approached me about helping you I was in freaking AWE! You are THEE most ambitious person I know. And INCREDIBLY capable!!!!!!!!!!!! And for the record... Mormons and women aren't the only ones interested in "gardens and curb appeal". If we were then the DIY concept wouldn't be the multi-billion dollar industry that it is. Hell there are freaking MOVEMENTS devoted to upcycling/recycling! I say BLAZE ON! I am entirely confident that you are going to be amazing!

imbeingheldhostage said...

This had nothing to do with your idea. Sounds to me like this woman has some pent-up aggression towards Mormonism and you just gave her the opportunity (in her mind) to declare her position.
I've never understood why people get so fired up over something that brings kindness, compassion and beauty to their community. Mind boggling.
I'm glad you came out on top with this one, but sorry she ever got under our skin in the first place.