“Haters gonna hate.”
I hear this phrase thrown out from time to time. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Urban Dictionary has this to say:
“A phrase that represents ones complete and total disregard of another’s negative comment towards the original person.”
The idea is that if someone (a hater) says something hateful, you utter this phrase, put your hand out, and ignore their hate. Sure, if you’re Justin Bieber it might be a good idea to “haters gonna hate” right about now and turn off your Twitter account.
But here in the Judge Program, we have been described as a “cult of self-improvement.” Most interactions where another judge makes a “negative comment” about you are in the context of feedback, either in a face-to-face interaction or a review. The other judge has your best interests at heart; they want you to become a better judge. It’s important to hear the feedback out and think about its impact on you even if it seems like hate at first.
Sometimes there’s that initial gut reaction of “pfft. Haters gonna hate. Set to ignore.” It’s important to put some to distance between yourself and the emotionally-charged feedback. This could be as simple as the classic “count to 10” or you might tell the judge “I need to take a round or 2 to think about this.” If you’re reading an e-mail or a review, step away from your computer or put your smart phone down for a bit.
Once you’ve gotten over your initial reaction, try to re-engage with the feedback. Consider that you can only ever see things from your own perspective, and even if you disagree with the feedback, it is very valuable to have some outside perspective on what you are doing. This are especially some situations where an outside perspective is critical to evaluating your performance like when you are delivering a ruling or making announcements to players. These are situations where you are so wrapped up in what you are doing that it is impossible to accurately gauge your own performance.
Even if the feedback starts with some general hate (“Wow. Those announcements sucked.”), you can still salvage the interaction by asking for specifics. This might yield some more actionable feedback like “They were too long” or “You spoke too quickly.”
Keep in mind that for every person who actually bothers to give you any kind of feedback, there are probably a few more people who are thinking the same thing, or have seen the same problems being addressed, but for whatever reason aren’t willing to speak up. The “hater” may just be the tip of iceberg of feedback that is floating below the surface. Dismissing the feedback might make people even more unwilling to try to engage you in the future.
Once you overcome your initial reaction, you might find that these haters have a lot to offer you, something to consider the next time you feel like brushing off feedback as “hate.”
P.S. Photo credit to Eric “Raging” Levine