“Constructive Criticism” vs “Being a Jerk”


Originally posted 2015-06-04 15:12:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Yesterday was kind of a milestone day for us.

We had our networking event at Stray Cat Lounge, and it was the two year anniversary of our very first live broadcast.  So it wasn’t exactly a “normal” networking event, but it was still exciting, fun, and something we were very much looking forward to happening.

It was also a day in which we got feedback about two different things, and there’s a lesson in there about how you give feedback to people, because there’s an enormous difference between “constructive criticism” and “being a jerk”…

The first feedback we got was early in the day on our Facebook page.

Specifically, on a post that I wrote a little over a week ago about my experience with Warby Parker’s customer service department.  It was extremely pleasant, helpful, did exactly what I needed to have done and was just really positive in general.  How many times do you say, or hear people say, that about dealing with customer service departments?  Not often, right?  Right.  So I thought it was post-worthy.

wonkaourpageSomeone disagreed with me:

“It’s great that you had a personal experience that you felt compelled to promote this well funded company. However, there are thousands of innovative companies out there that could certainly use some publicity as well. What we need is more open channels that don’t act as gatekeepers to help these companies at least be found. Promoting the winners is easy and we’ve yet to see anyone who can accurately pick the winners from the losers. That’s where the risk is.The marketplace will then determine the winners and losers. It would be much more interesting if you were to take that risk and not act as gatekeepers.”


“Promoting a company with 60 million in funding is weak.”

ChimppagepostRiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.  Because we never do anything for startups here in the area.  Nope, never.  Never ever.  Or grass roots organizations.  Or small groups doing cool things.  Or services for startups.  And we certainly don’t spend a ton of time helping people.  Or expend a ridiculous amount of effort putting on free events for people.  We don’t take on causes to help others.

So is it any wonder, really, that the only reply I could really come up with basically boiled down to “GTFO, idiot”?

clearknowClearly that person either:

  1. Is pissed that we haven’t focused in on his particular pet project or venture.
  2. Knows absolutely nothing about us.
  3. Has some sort of an agenda.
  4. Is the kind of person that reads one post on our page, from a week ago, and makes snap judgments about everything we are and do.
  5. All of the above.

concritYou don’t come into our house and talk smack without expecting to get slapped upside the back of the head.  You don’t try to be a variant of The Hipster Capitalist trying to tell us what we are and are not allowed to talk about, what we can and cannot promote, who we should or should not post things regarding.  That’s not your place.  You want to make suggestions about people, places and things we should talk about?  We’re all over it.  We love getting feedback and ideas from people…but not if you’re going to try and slam us while you’re doing it.  Don’t like what we’re doing?  Start your own group.  Do your own thing.  Invest your own time, effort, energy and money into building something up so that you can do whatever you want to do with it…why the hell do you think we started this in the first place?

So that’s “being a jerk”.

The other took place last night during our event.

We did our live broadcast, which kept Bob and I at a hightop table with all of the gear for the better part of the first two hours of the event.  Probably not the best idea in hindsight, but it was a special occasion and so I’ll stand by the choice we made to do it.

JokerdestressWith the broadcast complete and the gear packed up…it was time to finally relax and dive in a bit.  I ordered a drink and a cigar and went to sit down with a group of our members who had shown up.  I hadn’t been seated for more than about two minutes when a woman walked up and asked if I was one of the organizers.  I naturally said yes, I was, and asked if there was there something I could do for her.

She pointed out that it seemed like the event was very “stereotypical IT”, in that I, the organizer, was a guy, sitting down at a table with three other guys (note: a female member of our group got up and walked away as she was approaching, so I guess she didn’t notice her there…), smoking a cigar and making it seem like it was a “boys club”.


I told her that this particular event was very much a “one-off” from our normal events, given the anniversary and the live broadcast taking place, and that she should absolutely hit our event at Blackfinn on the 18th because we’ll be back to our normal state of affairs.

She wasn’t completely pacified by this, but there was little else I could really say or do.  I’ve had a long couple of weeks at work, I’ve been pretty stressed and drained with getting the new studio up and running, both kids are sick and not sleeping all that well over the past few days, and life’s just been pretty chaotic in general lately.  I wasn’t feeling particularly “on” at that moment.

So hopefully she shows up at Blackfinn and sees the difference, because last night, while a blast, definitely wasn’t the “norm” for our events by a long shot.  Because I did take her feedback seriously, and that’s because she approached me with a perfectly valid concern, and one we rail about quite a bit ourselves…so it kind of sucks that we were even perceived being in that same category, regardless of circumstances.

But that’s the main point of this lengthy rant – the first set of “feedback” wasn’t really “feedback”…it was grandstanding and inflammatory.  The second, while potentially being a fireball of a topic was handled properly and communicated well, and that makes all the difference in the world.

So Don’t Be That Guy, and pay attention to not only what you’re saying, but who you’re saying it to and gauge their mood as best as you can before choosing your own tenor and tone for the conversation.  It’ll make all the difference in the world.

That’s all for this time, go read something elsehttp://www.itinthed.com/read/

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