Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Correction, please

Have you ever heard the expression, "Nobody's really paying attention until you make a mistake?"

Today I learned firsthand that this is true. It doesn't matter if you've done the same thing if not perfectly, at least at an acceptable level for weeks, if you make a couple tiny little mistakes, then you're in trouble. It's kind of frustrating actually.

Here is my story about what happened that set this train of thought in motion. I have this one assignment at work that I was given almost a year ago. As far as assignments go, it's not something that I really stress about (well part of it isn't and the other part, well it is rather strenuous). I have to edit stories for this newsletter that we put out every week. One of the writers is terrible, and I normally end up re-writing almost the entire article. I was annoyed at first, but now I've accepted it as something that just has to be done. But it still takes motivation to edit that article.

This week I read over the article as usual. It wasn't very long, which was nice, but again, I did rewrite quite a bit of it. I always read over it 4-5 times before I send it on to the next person in the process, to make sure that it reads well and hopefully I didn't introduce new errors. The problem with reading it immediately is that after you've looked at something for so long, it all starts to look the same so sometimes you don't read it as carefully as you should. Apparently that's what happened.

I got to work this morning and an email was waiting in my Inbox telling me about two minor errors in the piece. I don't mind being corrected; in fact I often welcome it so that I can improve and not make the same mistakes again. I'm thinking maybe I was slightly out of sorts this morning or something because it just rubbed me the wrong way. I found myself on the defensive about it. I knew that I was being completely ridiculous because I'm certain the person who pointed it out only wanted to help me or caution me, one of the two. It's also a good reminder to me to not be complacent.

I've learned that it's much better to wait until after the initial anger has passed before you talk to someone when they made you mad. I waited for about half an hour before I responded, but I'm afraid that I was still rather defensive. It only burned my biscuit even more when this person offered to become "a second pair of eyes" for this particular piece and kind of told me to focus more attention on it (by dropping the other pieces that I edit for the newsletter). In all honestly, I'm currently undergoing changes in job responsibilities that will take affect in a few weeks, so now's probably a good time to tell me, but sometimes it's the mode of delivery as much as the message itself. The message was fine but the delivery burned me all over again.

Another thing I've learned is that anger is a secondary emotion so if you're feeling angry, it's usually a cover for something else. In analyzing why I was upset, this is what I deduced (I know, what a great word!): not only does my perfectionist self hate to make mistakes (I know that everybody does, but I still expect a lot from me and then get upset when I can't be perfect all the time. *sigh* unless of course you're Speak so you think you're perfect all the time :) J/K!) but to have that email be one of the first things that greeted me when I came in and to add insult to injury, to have that person suddenly act like I needed additional supervision was just too much. The irrational part of me was like, "I have been doing this now for almost a year, and while I know I don't do it perfectly, the majority of the time I do it well. You don't say thanks for all the weeks it goes smoothly but now that I made a mistake, you not only shove it in my face but also act like I now suddenly need you to look over my shoulder. Ugh!!" (As an explanatory note, I'm a pretty independent soul so I HATE feeling like someone is watching my every move or monitoring where I don't feel it's necessary.)

The good news is that while it probably sounds like I'm still mad about this situation from the tone of this post, I'm over it. The irrational part has been put to rest and the rational part, that knows I made an error (albeit small ones, but mistakes nonetheless), has taken over. That means I know I just have to step it up next week, hopefully without someone looking over my shoulder. . .

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