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:
- Selling Uphill: The Pitch
- Whether you're a CEO or a project champion, you occasionally have to persuade decision makers who have
some kind of power over you. What do they look for? What are the key elements of an effective pitch?
What does it take to Persuade Power?
- Begging the Question
- Begging the question is a common, usually undetected, rhetorical fallacy. It leads to unsupported conclusions
and painful places we just can't live with. What can we do when it happens?
- Communication Refactoring in Organizations
- Inadequate communication between units of large organizations is one factor that maintains the dysfunction
of "silo" structures in large organizations, limiting their ability to act coherently. Communication
refactoring can help large organizations to see themselves as wholes.
- Naming Ideas
- Participants in group discussions sometimes reference each other's contributions using the contributor's
name. This risks offending the contributor or others who believe the idea is theirs. Naming ideas is
- Columbo Strategy
- A late 20th-century television detective named Columbo had a unique approach to cracking murder cases.
His method is just as effective at work when the less powerful must deal with the powerful.
See also Effective Communication at Work and Conflict Management for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming June 14: Pseudo-Collaborations
- Most workplace collaborations produce results of value. But some collaborations — pseudo-collaborations — are inherently incapable of producing value, due to performance management systems, or lack of authority, or lack of access to information. Available here and by RSS on June 14.
- And on June 21: Asking Burning Questions
- When we suddenly realize that an important question needs answering, directly asking that question in a meeting might not be an effective way to focus the attention of the group. There are risks. Fortunately, there are also ways to manage those risks. Available here and by RSS on June 21.
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