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As much as we all would love to think that our everyday actions are the “right” ones, we are human. We make mistakes. Things fall through the cracks. We are pulled in a million directions, and sometimes, we’re not on our best game or making the best decisions.
Therefore, we need to be true to this human nature and receptive to other’s feedback. In fact, we should be asking for constructive criticism. Phew, yeah…I said it…ask for criticism.
When our dance company began over a decade ago, I was nervous to take the business plunge – taxes, accounting, marketing, etc. Years later, I’m still not great at any of those. However, the biggest challenge has certainly been creating – creating projects, services, and relationships. Admittedly, for the first 8 years in business, I rarely asked for feedback on any of these items. I was too worried about what people would think or say. My weak ego didn’t want to receive negativity or worse yet, more things to work on – GASP!
Fast forward very few years – I’ve decided that the only way to grow as a company is to solicit input from clients and non-clients. Surveys, questions, and recommendations have illuminated some really large gaps in the company’s processes.
More importantly, I as a person responsible for many of the relationships and friendships that have blossomed from this venture, find that the openness of others to hold me accountable and close those gaps only strengthens the environment. For example, I was teaching a few 8-counts and one of my friends/dancers pointed out that I was showing the steps differently each time. At first, I thought to myself – nah, I’m pretty sure I worked out this choreography beforehand. But, she was absolutely right. And her attention to detail helped better the entire routine, a win-win for the company and project!
Other examples include more vulnerable conversations. Developing a company with an open-minded, progressive philosophy, I am on the receiving end of many intimate, personal details. Folks open up about struggles at home, with their own mental health, and with their ability to feel seen. While I have been a good listener since birth, I only recently have taken these subjects and turned them into actions. If someone tells me that they don’t think they can make the scheduled practices, I offer private sessions. If they tell me they have an idea for a project, I take a diligent mental note and make sure to reach out about it for a discussion. If they are unhappy with anything, I make it a point to have a conversation and do better in the future – as a person and a company.
Regardless if you run a company or not, the same approach can be taken with your friends and family. My belief is that if someone matters to you, then taking their thoughts and constructive criticism into consideration will only make things better. Don’t shy away from the tough conversations!