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The Malaysian definition of feedback/criticism June 10, 2007

Posted by Wilz in Society.

… in the vast majority of cases :

A statement or opinion that must be received (and in some cases asked for) due to procedure (or because it makes the individual/organisation look good) with a polite smile and a courteous manner, in order to be replied to the feedback/criticism giver, or in postmortem meetings, with rhetoric or statements of good intention or common understanding, and subsequently, completely ignored. Should the feedback/criticism giver be a colleague, he or she should be immediately identified as a ‘boat rocker’ and be treated differently in the future, preferably with the raising of eyebrows whenever the word feedback or suggestion is mentioned.

Examples of usage :

Feedback: Hey – those two counters are for Milo and Coffee respectively right? I was thinking that the signboards pointing to the counters can be misleading. The signs says “Orange” and “Grapefruit” respectively. Maybe we should just label the signs “Milo” and “Coffee”?

Reply: Thank you for the suggestion. But in the three-page letter (and five page appendix) that we sent our customers, we have already informed them clearly that Orange represents Milo and Grapefruit represents Coffee! They should have the initiative to read the letter!

Feedback: A lot of people were generally unhappy with the situation today. Perhaps we can do […] to improve the situation.

Reply: Ah it’s true. It was quite […] wasn’t it. But you know how the world works. Haha – people are never satisfied especially when it comes to matters of […]. We have to see what our limitations are of course.

Feedback: There are clear steps we can still take within our limits to further improve the situation.

Reply: I’m telling you, no matter what you do, no one will ever be satisfied.

Feedback: There were some things which could have worked better if we did […].

Reply: Ah true. However, based on our observations regarding the situation, we found that

[insert completely sweeping assumptions and generalizations here],

and that if we

[insert bombastic sounding plan which states the fulfillment of agreed objectives without detailing the steps to achieving those objectives here],

then the situation will improve tremendously. We must of course, take all the factors into consideration, such as

[insert a myriad of limitations here, without an analysis of what is possible should available resources be managed better].

I believe we have the situation well under control.

The actual unsaid conversation taking place in replies to feedback or criticism in the vast majority of places:

Feedback: Perhaps it is a good suggestion if we […]. OR Perhaps we can improve by […].

Actual reply: Since I am [older/senior/paid more] and that this is my project, accepting your criticism would show that I am not a perfect human being who does everything perfectly. Since that I care more about my boss thinking that I am absolutely perfect rather than receiving good feedback to ensure that the task is carried out better, I must reject or defend against your criticism even if it is given with good intentions to assist me in better fulfilling my work. However, since that I am [older/senior/paid more] and I must display maturity in handling all things, I must be polite, smile, and accept the criticism gracefully, while using my full abilities in twisting language and coughing up pointless rhetoric to ‘handle’ this feedback from you without damaging myself, and getting absolutely nothing done to address the problem in the meantime.

Alternatively, instead of reading this post (which you’ve already done if you’ve reached this point :P) you could just read Dilbert every day. Scott Adams is a genius. /worship

Edit: I was told this is probably true in a many many other places on Earth too. Woe be to those of us who actually wish to get things done, and done well!



1. Fird - June 11, 2007

Well said. Couldn’t be explained better!

And it sucks to know that we’re living with this :(

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