…..But only if it doesn’t offend anyone else! At least that’s been pretty much the stand out experience I had this week.
I have no intention of going into great, and dull, detail. In short though, I spoke out about my view of the training organisation (or lack of) in place at a sports club I am a member of. I didn’t personally attack any individuals and as such I really didn’t anticipate being told (by a university lecturer!!) that I was talking B#@&cks and that I shouldn’t have made my comments in a public forum.
We’ll gloss over the fact that, given his role as an educator, SURELY debate and speaking freely should be something he encourages. We’ll also gloss over his failure to provide a balanced and measured response rather than a knee-jerk dismissal of my opinion simply on the basis that it didn’t match his…. An opinion to which I am fairly certain, as a fee paying member, I am perfectly entitled to express!
What I found so interesting though, was that whilst I was being personally (and publicly) slated for having the audacity to raise an opinion for discussion (apparently this should only have been done privately, direct to the committee… although I’m still not clear why! ), I was also getting an unexpectedly high number of private messages supporting my point, expressing disbelief at the childish responses certain individuals had come back with in a public forum and, most telling for me, thanking me for raising a point which had affected many of them directly. A point which, it turns out, has even been the trigger for a number of members stopping attending training or, if they are still attending, enjoying the club less than they used to.
Another interesting point is that nobody tells members to keep their opinions to themselves when they are talking about how wonderful the club is, or what amazing experiences they have had with the club. This smacks of double standards to me – the club are only open to positive feedback and prefer to ignore constructive criticism! This kind of complacent attitude can never be helpful or support the ongoing growth of the club. Members are the reason there IS a club and as such, positive or negative, opinions should be valued and, dare I say it, encouraged. Growth and improvement comes when you understand what doesn’t work for those involved.
And before anyone says it, of course you can never please all of the people all of the time.
Of course there is the school of thought that if you don’t like something you could step up and make changes. But for me, this is where the rub comes. Our club is run by volunteers and actually, I think they do an amazing job. I wouldn’t volunteer for a host of reasons but they all boil down to one underlying factor – I wouldn’t be able to give what I feel I should if I was in that position. But, does that mean that my opinion is invalid? Nothing in life happens without challenge. Ofsted challenge schools, auditors challenge accountants, customers challenge businesses.
Albeit on a different level, surely members have the right to challenge?
Why did so many people message me privately to show support? Why didn’t they feel able to do so publicly? Well, actually I can tell you the reason for some – because they have gone up against ‘the club’ in the past and received similar treatment.
Have you been put off speaking out for fear of being personally attacked?
Do you think only good things should be discussed in a public forum?
I’d love to hear your views or experiences?