‘I welcome criticism’ is often an alibi to avoid criticism. OK, that’s as harsh as it goes for a generic. But I know people who always say that, and are the ones who like criticism less. Or who have fixed ideas, strongly developed, leading to fait accompli outcomes, followed by ‘I welcome criticism’. Which by then … it’s too late.
In my many moons as organisational architect, I have found many people who preach openness, being the most closed oysters of all.
One leader from my previous corporate life professed public Cristian values but was the least caring of all I have ever known.
The most Christian-values leader I have known was a Hindu. The most open was actually somebody not very vocal herself. The most welcoming of criticism, never had any need to say it.
Sometimes what you give air time to, is that one characteristic that you possess less. ‘I am very sympathetic’ does not make you empathetic but vocal about sympathy.
The best good people I have ever met in my life were the least broadcasters of their goodness. As I say, I suspect there is an inverse correlation in all these.
When I was a boy, the family learnt of the sudden collapse and death of my grandfather in a church. A highly skilled public service, communications engineer who found himself in the wrong side of the Spanish civil war, could never return to his own loved job and worked as a low key administrator in a factory. He used to go to work very early every day. Too early, we thought. When we were called to the church, we learnt that he had been going to that early Mass every day for years. We never knew of his deep religious practices other than our family Sunday Mass. He was the finest man.
There is a pattern. The least ostentatious may be the more authentic. It’s not a mathematical formula, but a pretty good rule of thumb.