How to Not Be a Tyrant

Part of the contract of being a resident at the Monastic Academy is to give and receive feedback to each other.

We even have a role “Ops” whose job is to hold the integrity of the group and be the last line of discipline to enforce rules and norms. This takes the form of feedback.

People in Ops discover that they are either too harsh or too passive.

Recently, I was asked how to navigate between being responsible for giving feedback and also not wanting to hurt others and just stroke one’s own ego.

I responded there are two criteria at a minimum to check:

(a) Do I care about this person?

(b) Am I open to receiving feedback about how I gave feedback?

The first is to make sure that feedback is coming out of compassion for the group rather than advancing our own egos. The second is to make sure we, ourselves, are not hypocrites.

Note, I did not include, “does the receiver want the feedback?” I don’t think that’s valid here where everyone already agreed to receive feedback. However, an alternative might be, “Is this person capable of receiving this feedback?” Although if they are consistently demonstrating not being able to receive feedback then this is not a good place for them.


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