Whether we're writing code, copy, or speeches, or designing a building, shooting a film, or laying out a landscape, our work can be subject to review. Reviewers ask for revisions. And revisions to the revisions. The experience can be frustrating, especially when we disagree with what we're asked to do. Here are some insights that might be helpful in those situations. As in Part I, I'm pretending that I'm advising the person making the revisions.
- Let's not discard something that's good enough
- If the required changes don't seem justifiable, maybe the problem is actually a disagreement about acceptance criteria.
- Have you discussed acceptance criteria? If not, perhaps that's a place to start. But if you have discussed acceptance criteria, and didn't reach consensus, maybe that's the place to start. If the reviewers are unwilling, they might feel that they have the power to require the changes without your consent. If so, the problem might be deeper. Make the revisions, and when the reviewers are satisfied, and the dust has settled, try to determine what the real issue might be.
- Let's not change it to something that's wrong
- There The experience of having our
work reviewed can be frustrating,
especially when we disagree
with what we're asked to doare many ways to be "wrong." The reviewers want something that won't do what they say they want; we (or someone we know) already tried that and it didn't work; or the change will make the current piece incompatible with other pieces of the same suite. And many more.
- If you've made your case, and failed to persuade the decision-maker(s), revision might not be the problem — failure to persuade could be the problem. If you didn't have an opportunity to make your case, then that's the problem. Maybe you didn't seek the opportunity, or maybe you missed it, or perhaps your views aren't valued.
- Because you might be mistaken about their request being "wrong," temper your response to the reviewers. For example, if what they want has been tried before, the fact that it didn't work is relevant only to the extent that the present context aligns with the prior context. See "Definitions of Insanity," Point Lookout for January 17, 2007, for more.
If your opposition to the required revisions is well known, some might anticipate that you'll resent having to make those revisions. Beware. If the effort fails, as you predicted it would, and you've done anything other than what was required, you might be accused of sabotage — possibly behind your back. Make the revisions the reviewers require. Do a superb job. Be certain that the reviewers are delighted. And then begin working on becoming more influential.
Problems of this kind frequently arise from communications difficulties. If satisfying the reviewers seems easier than untangling the communications issues, satisfy the reviewers first. Then work together to determine if or how communications contributed to the problem. Collaborate to resolve that problem before the next review. First in this series Top Next Issue
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More articles on Effective Communication at Work:
- Dismissive Gestures: I
- Humans are nothing if not inventive. In the modern organization, where verbal insults are deprecated,
we've developed hundreds of ways to insult each other silently (or nearly so). Here's part one of a
catalog of non-verbal insults.
- When Over-Delivering Makes Trouble
- When responding to inquiries such as "Is that correct?" we sometimes err by giving too many
reasons why it's incorrect. Patterns of over-delivery can lead to serious trouble. Here's how.
- The Limits of Status Reports: I
- Some people erroneously believe that they can request status reports as often as they like, and including
any level of detail they deem necessary. Not so.
- How to Listen to Someone Who's Dead Wrong
- Sometimes we must listen attentively to someone with whom we strongly disagree. The urge to interrupt
can be overpowering. How can we maintain enough self-control to really listen?
- Anticipate Counter-Communication
- Effective communication enables two parties to collaborate. Counter-communication is information provided
by a third party that contradicts the basis of agreements or undermines that collaboration.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming July 8: Multi-Expert Consensus
- Some working groups consist of experts from many fields. When they must reach a decision by consensus, members have several options. Defining those options in advance can help the group reach a decision with all its relationships intact. Available here and by RSS on July 8.
- And on July 15: Disjoint Concept Vocabularies
- In disputes or in problem solving sessions, when we can't seem to come to agreement, we often attribute the difficulty to miscommunication, histories of disagreements, hidden agendas, or "personality clashes." Sometimes the cause is much simpler. Sometimes the concept vocabularies of the parties don't overlap. Available here and by RSS on July 15.
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