I made a FB post recently
Had another experience to post about.
At work, there is a small group of us who play pickleball. About a year ago, I got persuaded to join in. I played a bit of racquetball in college but sports aren’t really my thing. I have made it clear to everyone that I play for the physical activity of it. I want to run around. I would prefer not to embarass my teammates or myself but I am not necessarily interested in winning.
There are about 3 of us who are about my skill level and about three of who are much better than that. One of my co-workers is pretty competitive. He saves his John Macinrow tantrams for himself at least.
We rotate around today and he gives me some unsolitcited advice on how to play better. I somewhat sarcastically acknowledge it.
I then go on to play worse for a while. Not on purpose but he is my head now. In waiting to hear more advice, I am tempted to tell him “you can either be on my team or in my head, pick one.” I also wanted to give my own unsolicited advice, “get out of your own head as well.”
The whole point however is more about playing the game. While he and I are playing by the same ruleset, we are not playing the same game. He wants to make good shots and would really prefer to win. I want exercise. I am willing to improve at the speed of my experience but no faster.
This applies to many things, especially the SCA. We are all playing broadly by the same rules (the mega ones; obviously our specific subsets have other rules). But we are all not playing the same game. Before you are tempted to help correct someone’s game, find out what they are actually playing and whether they even want your help.
One commentor thought I should expand on it so here it goes. And I noticed that Sir Gebhart posted similar about heavy fighting.
People have different motivations for what they do. They have different goals. They have different access to resources. This should be obvious.
However, unsolicited feedback is a giant assumption that the other person wants to achieve the same goals as you. You are forcing your vision of “the game” on them. We have seen these comments before:
That outfit isn’t period; You should do this.
If you want to be a knight, you should do that.
The assumption is, you aren’t doing it the way I would do it so you are doing it wrong. Basically, you must share my goal of being the best.
But not everyone is playing that game. Perhaps, they enjoy something different. If you want to give legitimate feedback, then you have to work to understand what you are seeing.
The first thing is you need to understand the other person’s goal. What are they trying to achieve? What is their motivation?
Next once you have that, what kind of feedback are they looking for? Pretty often with my crafts, I am pretty aware of my limitations. I may not have access to certain equipment or certain techniques. Feedback that involve those things isn’t helpful.
Lastly, that feedback needs to be given in such a way that the other person will accept it and do something with it. This doesn’t mean sugar coating it and it doesn’t mean the “compliment sandwich.” But it also doesn’t mean snide one-liners either. The feedback also needs to be something the person can do. Telling someone who is just starting that they need to improve with an advanced technique isn’t going to help.
What does all of this mean? It means that you have to get to know the person you are giving feedback to. It is not as simple as a few sentences. It is a conversation. If you don’t have time to learn all of these things, then maybe you need to keep your feedback to yourself.
It is quite different when someone approaches you and asks for feedback and that is almost always a conversation.