A few years ago, while working as a fitness coach, I received a scathing review from a member. She wrote it on lined paper, didn’t sign her name, and gave it to the front desk one morning. The sales associate read it, called one of the owners, then showed it to me when I arrived for work a couple of hours later.
As I read it, I felt humiliated and defeated as this person lit into me, degrading me and saying I shouldn’t be there…all because of one class where I misread the template and made a mistake.
Because the note was for the owner and not written to me (just about me), it was scanned and then left at the front desk…where everyone who worked there could read it. I was determined not to let it bother me and to learn from it, but honestly, I felt crushed and defeated.
Never once did this member talk to me while I worked there. She could have nicely approached me during the workout or after it. She didn’t know me, my heart, what my day was like, etc. but felt she had the place to criticize and demolish me.
In the Fall/Winter of 2019, my son joined a travel soccer team. He was the new player on a team that had been together for a few years. During one of their indoor games, a teammate was called for a bad throw-in. The parents around me (who I was just getting to know) were trying to figure out what happened since it was at the far part of the field. I joined the conversation and said what he did incorrectly on that throw. Then we continued to watch them win the game.
That evening, I received a nasty email from the player’s mom berating and demeaning me because I said there was something wrong with her son’s throw-in. I was mortified and thought that everyone must hate me and would it effect my son. To make things even worse, she included the coach in the email. I kindly apologized and explained that I wasn’t criticizing her son, just talking about why the ref said it was an illegal throw-in, etc.
Never once did she ever acknowledge me or say ‘hi’ to me at any practice or game. While the other parents got to know me, she ignored me. She could have talked to me after the game. She didn’t need to copy the coach on the email. She knew nothing about me, my kid, my heart, etc. but she felt it was okay to crush me and make me feel small.
Here’s the thing about both of these stories (and I’m sure you have your own to add): we all make mistakes and are misunderstood. I don’t mind constructive criticism because that is how I grow as a person, but there is never a reason to verbally abuse and demean another person. As Jesus said, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.” (John 8:7)
Who of us hasn’t said something they wish they could take back? Who of us hasn’t hurt someone unexpectedly? Who of us hasn’t something taken the wrong way by someone else?
How about instead of lashing out we choose kindness. Realize that you are no better than that person and show forgiveness and grace. Is there a place to call someone out when something is wrong? Of course. But how you do it makes all the difference. Don’t be a jerk. Be kind.