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In My Opinion....
"I Have a Better Idea...."
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 • Posted June 30, 2010

All of us, in our respective jobs, have to deal with others telling us what we've done wrong, what we could have done better, and what might have been done just a bit differently. Down here at the News, we are in an extremely public situation, and thus have a legion of folks who let us (mostly me) know what should have been done differently in that week's edition.

Some times, the comments have to do with what we chose to feature on the front page. "You should have given it more space..... a color photo.... a bigger headline." Just as often, the comments concern where in the paper we placed the photo/article. Everyone feels they should be on the front page; but, not every article is of interest to enough of the community to require that kind of placement.

When people change your tires, we are all full of suggestions for how we want the tires replaced, what we want done with the old tires, and how we want the tires rotated based upon an article we found in a magazine. The person fixing the tires, if we're lucky, will nod, seem to listen to us, then do what is actually best for the vehicle.

If the vet is working on one of our cows, we are full of advice. We note what we've already done, suggest he try something we think might work, and caution him about doing things we've heard are just a waste of time. Our local vets have the patience of saints, and are very good at keeping a smile on their faces while they continue working their medical miracles.

I guess we just can't help giving advice. We offer it to our elected officials when they vote differently than we think they should have. We offer it to actors on the movie screen when we think they're making a mistake in entering the darkened house. We even give advice to parents in public situations on how they can make their children be better people.

It's the taking of advice that requires a bit more tact and intelligence.

A few weeks ago, I gave one of my patented wisecrack answers when a lady suggested a different way of placing advertisements. After some reflection, I wrote her a written apology and asked her to give me another chance to err in the future.

It's not easy to have people tell you how to do your job. You have to set your ego aside, and you have to understand that the person making the comments actually believes they are being helpful. I had a lady last week tell me she wanted something in the paper so that we would finally "have something worth reading." The part of me that wanted to ask her if the obituaries, wedding announcements and awards articles in that week's edition were worthless pieces of ink on paper had to find a way to keep its mouth shut. Instead, I got her information and got the piece put in later. Some people would consider her submission a waste of space; but, to her, it was very important.

That's the key thing to remember. We all give advice because we are proud of the knowledge we possess. We know, or think we know, some things, and we don't want the people we're dealing with to think that we are clueless. Of course, once we open our mouths, we usually give away our true level of competence, and the people to whom we're giving the advice then have to either accept it tactfully, or they can cut us off at the knees.

Try to remember that advice is given because people care. They care that you make the right decisions. They care that their car runs well. They care that the newspaper is something worth reading.

And, who knows? Sometimes, if we actually listen to the advice we're being given, we learn a thing or two that is useful.

It’s all just my opinion.

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