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
Are you fed up with tense, explosive meetings? Are you or a colleague the target of a bully? Destructive conflict can ruin organizations. But if we believe that all conflict is destructive, and that we can somehow eliminate conflict, or that conflict is an enemy of productivity, then we're in conflict with Conflict itself. Read 101 Tips for Managing Conflict to learn how to make peace with conflict and make it an organizational asset. Order Now!
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More articles on Effective Communication at Work:
- Troublesome Terminology
- The terms we use at work to talk about practices, policies, and procedures are serviceable, for the
most part. But some of them carry connotations and hidden messages that undermine our larger purposes.
- Long-Loop Conversations: Asking Questions
- In virtual or global teams, where remote collaboration is the rule, waiting for the answer to a simple
question can take a day or more. And when the response finally arrives, it's often just another question.
Here are some suggestions for framing questions that are clear enough to get answers quickly.
- Publish an Internal Newsletter
- If you're responsible for an organizational effort with many stakeholders, communicating with them is
important to success. Publishing an internal newsletter is a great way to keep them informed.
- The Limits of Status Reports: II
- We aren't completely free to specify the content or frequency of status reports from the people who
write them. There are limits on both. Here's Part II of an exploration of those limits.
- More Things I've Learned Along the Way: IV
- When I gain an important insight, or when I learn a lesson, I write it down. Here's Part IV from my
personal collection. Example: When it comes to disputes and confusion, one person is enough.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming April 1: Incompetence: Traps and Snares
- Sometimes people judge as incompetent colleagues who are unprepared to carry out their responsibilities. Some of these "incompetents" are trapped or ensnared in incompetence, unable to acquire the ability to do their jobs. Available here and by RSS on April 1.
- And on April 8: Intentionally Misreporting Status: I
- When we report the status of the work we do, we sometimes confront the temptation to embellish the good news or soften the bad news. How can we best deal with these obstacles to reporting status with integrity? Available here and by RSS on April 8.
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Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.