Defensiveness About Criticism; A Barberton Curse Decades Old
There is a great article written about how to deal with public criticism properly titled “The Difficult Art of Responding to Public Criticism“. I found this article when it was first published about 2 years ago. I was led to it originally due to the way a chamber handled favoritism and became extremely defensive when confronted by other store owners. Being confronted with criticism publicly by an individual or a group is normal. Becoming defensive after being criticized shows the lack of experience, professionalism, and self-control.
Barberton has a long history that I am extremely proud of. Along with the good we have to accept the bad and this is where I am seeing mixed emotion from both political figures and certain individuals of the public. No one likes to be told the someone is not happy about an action taken. I understand this since at some level it is a personal decision that led to that said action. It is natural to become upset when being questioned as an adult. With this said, there is a huge difference when you are a public figure or the local government.
I have experienced it first hand
When I first started this blog post I wanted to simply state a point and leave it along. I started to think and this post would then hold only criticism and non structural complaints if it was short. I have seen elected and appointed officials become defensive just as soon as something was said. I have experienced this first hand. As the header suggests, I have asked questions and received smirking answers that sometimes carries with it an over statement typical when someone is trying to prove your criticism or question is not correct or threatening. I take mental notes of what is said and how it was perceived. This tends to come in handy later on down the road to drive home a point.
I watched as a Citizen stood up at City Council and questioned how things were happening throughout the city and he was met with chests being puffed out by some officials. This is uncalled for and sadly when I start digging into history and talking to more people the stories sound all too familiar. When did questioning our local leaders and Government put you in a bucket of “Cry Babies”, “Naysayers” and other slandering names? The simple act of criticizing our local government for anything now labels people “Complainers” and unfortunately put some people in the crosshairs for what some would call unethical abuse of power and knowledge.
It is not all bad
I would like anyone reading this to know that not everything is bad. I think the people in power truly do care for the City of Barberton. Sometimes it is biased but none the less they care. I have no issues with the Mayor personally. This goes for 98% of the officials in the City of Barberton as well. The City of Barberton is a lot different from it was when I was a kid and I will say that most of the difference is for the better.
if you look at the picture as a whole too much you will fall victim to complacency. This is because as a whole, Barberton is an awesome town but I would remind people it is not the officials but rather the citizens that make it so. The people in this town are truly amazing and are the exact reason I love it.
No one is perfect but collectively we can be more right than wrong. I will be the first to admit I am not perfect and I am defiantly not always right. I will admit when I am wrong and I will admit when there is issues. Some call me a blessing and some call me a Jack a#@. Either way, I will always do what I believe is the right thing for all. I am careful to not be so stubborn that my own ego gets in the way of decisions. When I am wrong, I will admit it and correct it humbly. Enough of my faults. What about my Criticism?
- Members that have voting roles on certain boards have direct connection that clearly are a conflict of interest yet they still vote.
- Almost all of the businesses that I have talked to about their experience in Barberton have stated that the City is a pain to work with.
- Our city does not have an Engineer like we are required to have. We pay more for consulting than what an in-house engineer would cost.
- Our city is monopolized by a few family names and those families still sit in seats throughout the city dealings.
- Asking questions and questioning decisions become personal.
- Whether they admit it or not, if you befriend certain people you can slide through cracks for certain things.
- Information privy to officials somehow gets leaked persuading opinions and one-sided narratives.
So why get defensive when criticized?
Being questioned creates a feeling of being challenged or threatened by those that do not know how to handle opinions other than their own. The natural stance when being threatened is to fight back. This is where I see a large issue and one of my biggest gripes about some people in power.
That fact that a relationship with certain powers plays any role in decision making is crazy. Not to be too petty about the issue but when the city stops sharing certain information based on if they feel threatened by it or the person/business is childish and does not benefit no one but themselves. Of course no one that controls these things will admit this, but I can tell you it happens more than you might think. I guess the fact that most of the positions are paid and any person that is perceived as able to take that away is an enemy. Sadly, this is how I feel our city is ran and managed in some aspects. If you don’t praise them, you get no help from them.
“You can not fix something that you do not know is broken. No matter how much your circle tells you something, does not mean they are right.”