It stings, like a slap in the face

When someone insults you, it hurts.  Even if you don’t believe it.  Even if it’s not based in data.  Even if you don’t like the person it’s coming from.  When someone insults me, it really hurts.  Mostly because it hits the on button of the critic that lives in my head who is insulting me all the time.  Do you know her?  Perhaps she’s friends with the critic in your head?  I like to think they have coffee on Thursday afternoons where they laugh at us.  Then I like to think of them choking on the coffee.

Anyway, I saw a blog today that hurt my feelings like a slap in the face.

http://www.eventuresincyberland.com/2011/10/video-clip-of-the-month-do-aid-workers-need-pr-101/

But now that it’s been 15 minutes and a walk around the block I can see her (Monica, twitter handle: @CyberlandGal) points.  Well, I can see some of them.  And they are valid.  My talk wasn’t perfect.  There were some factual errors.  It was my opinion based on conversations and not a proper research tool with a statistically significant sample size.  I knew that was going to happen before I did it (honestly I’m just glad I got through my 4 minutes without shaking).  I tried to correct the errors in the comments after the talk (you can see those here: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_lockwood_selling_condoms_in_the_congo.html).  I’d love to do real research on this, but this is just my opinion.

And I respect her opinion, because let’s be honest, I certainly don’t think of myself as “jaw-dropping, informative, or inspiring” either.  But, I did start a conversation.  I did some research, wrote a presentation and put my opinion out there.  After the sting, all that is left to do is recognize that she did too.  My lesson about this is that not everyone agrees with me and I’m okay with that.  I’m even okay with the critics, because they can never be as harsh as I am to myself…and they may offer a different perspective that will help me to learn more, be a better communicator, and practice smiling in the face of the slap.

So thanks @CyberlandGal.  If you are free for coffee on Thursday, let me know.

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2 thoughts on “It stings, like a slap in the face

  1. Hi Amy,

    Great post from the heart! I can relate to feeling hurt when somebody insults you or your esteemed colleagues… or even the esteemed employees of your employers’ esteemed competitors. I would love to see some research on this topic too and completely agree dialogue and creativity are what is needed to save as many people as possible as cheaply as possible in culturally appropriate ways. Solid research also would prevent group think or incorrect hypotheses from wasting funds in the face of heart-breaking need (conditions in parts of DRC can bring even a long-time development practitioner to tears)

    By the way, you are an incredibly gifted orator, and the delivery of your talk was impeccable. I am surprised to learn you felt nervous. You were poised, confident, and incredibly articulate.

    I’d love to have coffee with you sometime. I live near Washington, D.C., however. My mom is from San Francisco, but I seldom get out that way. If you are ever in town, I’d love to meet with such a rising star in public health.

    Kind Regards,
    Monica

  2. Monica Curca says:

    Hi Amy, I saw your talk, read Monica’s blog and have blogged about it myself here http://www.peaceforsale.org

    To be honest, I think it was not the entertainment factor in question. I for one am not looking for guns and explosions in TED talks. Nor was it a matter of disagreement, as a true disagreement about this issue would be with data and evidence in front of you and Monica.

    I think Monica was simply calling you out on the lack of research and understanding of a context. Yes, its embarrassing and does not feel great. BUT, its about becoming better academics and researchers and I think that was the point.

    I have found that it is never a good thing to make huge assumptions as I am sure if you look over the monitoring and evaluations reports of the implementing agencies in the DRC (UN, USAID, etc) or their log frames, you will probably find a great deal of research done into who the target audience will be. I will not repeat the statements that Monica made on her blog as I think she was thorough. But I think her call for more rigorous research and data is a good one that we should all heed.

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