I’m a critical person. I’m also a perfectionist. While this doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes, it does mean I have an urge to fix mistakes when I see them.
One common place to find mistakes on is people’s posts, tweets and status updates. I used to correct them in a comment. I didn’t give it much thought, really. If I saw a typo, I’d comment on it. Bad use of the language? I’d comment on it.
It wasn’t until I saw someone else doing the same that it hit me. They corrected a person online. The person replied, saying they were dyslexic. They said the correction could have been made in private rather than public shaming them.
It hit me hard. For years, I was feeding my own ego at others’ expense. I was public shaming friends (and strangers) to show off my superior intellect. How poor a behavior this suddenly seemed.
From that moment onwards, I stopped. I would send friends a private message if they made a mistake. This gives them a chance to rectify it without the public shaming.
It changed how I do code reviews, too. I try to be softer in my criticism now. If I have harsh feedback, I send it to the person privately. It doesn’t mean I stopped flagging mistakes in code reviews, of course. But I always keep the lesson I learned in the back of my mind. I’m reviewing a person’s work. They have feelings, and they could get hurt.
My advice to you? If you are like me and are bothered by people’s mistakes, keep your feedback discreet.
You can read more about this approach in the highly recommended How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This is a book I recommended before but is worth mentioning again. It truly can change how you interact with people and how they respond to you.
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