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Thin skin? Need not apply

March 8, 2010

Love elephants.  Always have.  They are big, strong, highly intelligent and have really thick skin.  Kinda the same skills you need in business.

We were out to dinner with friends of ours from England.  We were talking about business meetings and they were making fun of Americans.  “When critiquing something, why do they always start out ‘here’s what I like’?”  my friend started “Why can’t they just say, ‘this sucks’.”  Our table was in hysterics, because it is true, we are conditioned to not totally crush spirits and to give words of encouragement before breaking into the diatribe of things that are wrong.

We had a similar experience with our business last week.  We are on re-design #10 with the logo — and we are all in different camps.  While critiquing each others work, we are careful to not be too harsh, using phrases like “I love how you created movement, but” or ” that is one direction,” but no one was definitely saying they did not like something.  After I used the phrase, “that is one direction to go,” the group then started tweaking the design.  I started to break into a full sweat and my heart raced in panic, as I really didn’t like the idea and didn’t think it was the right direction.  So finally I blurted out, “ok, I hate it.  sorry, don’t like it, not the right direction, it’s very common and not unique enough for us.”  Whew, I felt better.  But as I turned to my partners I knew I had just opened up Pandora’s box.  Because now the cat claws were out….

“Well if we are being honest now,” one partner says “I don’t like our current typeface, it isn’t strong enough.”  My heart was shattered as I LOVE our friendly, open, typeface.  I wasn’t sure if I should start searching for a new font or start pulling her hair.

To make matters worse, my other partner was excited about a logo that was pretty phallic.  After I pointed “it” out, she said, “well sex sells.”  Has the world gone mad?!?!?  Is there a full moon?  Am I not drinking enough at this meeting?!?!

After about 10 minutes of us all being truly honest, the cat claws got clipped, the pony tails re-adjusted, and another bottle of wine opened, and we ended up in a better place because we know where everyone stands (minus a few hairs).  If we were all a little more honest on the upfront, we could have saved a few months of spinning in one direction.

Business is not for the weak of heart or the thin skinned.  Learning how to take criticism and adjust is truly a great skill.  But learning how to sweep the knee, is an even better one.

Smashing© and http://www.smashingonline.wordpress.com©, 2010.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2010 7:04 am

    And the Oscar for Best Adapted Story goes to…..Spinner!

  2. tenniswall permalink
    March 8, 2010 7:15 am

    lol. sorry for sweeping the knee. hope you can walk today

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