Today a member of a group I belong to, gave me feedback and advised I take a certain action. I decided to be responsive, so I brought it up as a group conscience item for the person. To be fair, the criticism had come up some time ago, by another member, who really would like program sharing to be more delimited in order to be helpful to more people.
It was suggested I set an example and show folks how to share with fewer words.
Because I want to act quickly and show that I am responsive to such feedback, I put this person's concerns into our group conscience. I kept the person's name confidential, shared some of their suggestions about how to abbreviate shares, and opened it up for others to share their perspectives. This led to a lively discussion, but one that I now see left some folks feeling that they had been criticized, personally and behind their backs.
This all happened because I went to people-pleasing, before checking in with my Higher Power for a larger perspective. I had the sense that the person offering their feedback was desperate for a limit to the length of shares. I wanted to honor their courage in speaking up. I also wanted a true reality check from the group on whether this was a problem for other people.
Now I know to ask more questions of the person offering their ideas, before I put something to a group for discussion. Because if not careful, the status quo will become hurt and defensive and in speaking up it will "win out." Too easy in conflict for someone to want to push for fast closure (and their viewpoint) and then there is no true open group discussion.
If I share a criticism that someone has told me privately, with the whole group, even if the intent is to give the group a chance to look deeply, that may backfire. Trying to please one person, can displease so many others. Now the others are displeased and some of their feelings are hurt. Our forum feels less safe, less cohesive. And all because I took it on myself to share for one person who, it turns out, was not in a place to communicate his concerns to the group.
This person framed their need for change in terms of their own inability to deal with others wordiness. Had I listened to my own inner voice, and not been so afraid of this person leaving, I would have asked him more questions about how he wished to participate in the discussion. Instead, I rejected his directions on group guidelines, and told him it was not my decision to make for the group. And I shared the concern with the group so we could decide together if we wished to have word and time limitations to shares.
All of this action, and the subsequent emotional reactions, have led me to lose track of who I am, and my own values.
I need to let others be themselves, and speak their hearts and minds and let things BE.
Damn, when will I ever learn?
Well, tomorrow is another day to blow the blues away...