*Those who didn't read my post about 'Steven', my karate instructor, would be best to stop reading now.... this will bore you silly*
If you're still reading now, I'll try to reward you by being succinct!
Remember how 'Steven' was being rude and aggressive in classes? What I didn't mention in my story was the fact that 'Lisa', Steven's sister, also trains at the same dojo. And after Steven's particularly foul-mouthed outburst early last week, Lisa cornered me in the changing room and asked me what I thought about how he was acting.
Keeping in mind that Lisa was Steven's sister, I merely remarked that I thought Steven was trying to ensure we all respected him as our teacher. I added that I understood it would be hard to instruct a class of such a diverse age range, but agreed Steven was being too aggressive in his manner. I told Lisa that I was considering speaking to Steven on another occasion, when he had calmed down a bit.
For two days, I thought and thought about what I might say, how exactly I might word what I wanted to convey, without causing offence. Then I turned up for training again, and Steven was standing right beside the sign-in book.
"Hi, Steven", I greeted him.
Without any preliminaries, Steven replied, "What you said to Lisa - I completely agree."
My mind spinning (wondering what on earth Lisa actually said!), I managed a "Huh?"
Steven reiterated, "What you said to Lisa - you're right. I agree".
Not one to think on my feet, I mumbled, "Oh....OK!". I smiled, bowed in to class and lined up with everyone.
The class went well. Steven was warmer, friendlier, but still ran a tight ship and made sure we all listened and trained hard.
I went home, still amazed at Steven's response. Because I don't know about you, but when faced with criticism, I don't think I have ever simply stated, "You're right, I agree completely." If I manage to swallow my pride enough to accept what's been said, I will agree and apologise - but always with at least one small justification. Like, " Yeah, I was grumpy, I'm sorry. It's just that.. (blah blah- insert excuse of any kind eg fatigue, worry, illness, headache)".
Steven made no excuses, didn't rationalise, didn't give explanations - he openly acknowledged an error, agreed with a criticism, and changed his approach.
My respect for Steven has grown immeasurably. I've also realised that it's all too easy to criticise (like I did), but much more difficult to accept criticism gracefully.
Ironic, isn't it - I started off all indignant, thinking Steven needed to 'learn a thing or two'. Yet really, I'm the one who has learnt something new.
Life is full of fascinating twists and turns.