Evaluation Presentation Hastens Chasten Realization!

Sarah Paulson at a media event

I seem to be writing lately about mistakes I’ve made. Assessing and reassessing my own behavior is nothing new. But there have been triggers in pop culture, I suppose, like actress Sarah Paulson’s recent mini-rant.

Paulson told the story of getting a six-page letter of directions and corrections from the actress who performed in a stage role prior to her taking over. Sarah hadn’t asked for feedback. The other performer saw Paulson in the play and decided to send Paulson scads of notes about her performance.


Paulson named the woman (Trish Hawkins) and ended with, “I hope I see you never.”

Mistakes, I’ve Made A Few

This made me think about times over the years when I’ve tried to be helpful by correcting someone privately. Sometimes it went over well. Other times, probably rightly, it wasn’t as cheerfully received.

Recently a friend’s blog post contained a misspelling. He knows me well and knows my heart. When I sent him a quick note about it, he knew it came with the unspoken admission that I’ve done this a thousand times myself. I’m only trying to help! And I certainly want to know when I’ve made a similar error.

But I recall another time when it quickly became clear that my “helpfulness” wasn’t appreciated. I realized that this person, an acquaintance, doesn’t know how rarely I choose to say anything to anybody about anything beyond the misuse of an apostrophe! And let’s get real – I’ve given up on that. Just because an error irks me, doesn’t give me license to bug someone about it. So, when I have, I’ve thought it out first. But that still doesn’t mean it’s mine to fix. And this person let me know it.

When someone doesn’t know you, even gentle criticism can appear that you’re sitting at your keyboard at the ready, just looking for a mistake to gleefully pounce on! The truth, in my case at least, couldn’t be further from that. I have a “we’re all in this together” attitude that not everyone shares. And it doesn’t always come across in keyboard strokes. There’s also the possibility that I’m wrong, at least in the eyes of the person I’m trying to help. Not only is it best to do it sparingly, but to dial it back to almost never.

But a six-page unsolicited letter on someone’s performance? Perish the thought! That would be like sending a detailed critique of someone’s radio show out of the blue. Or edits of an entire article. That’s not trying to help, it’s spilling one’s bloated ego over someone else’s head.

I Know Criticism

As I recently explained, there were times in my radio career when the in-studio hotline would light up the second the microphone went off. The boss would call and give me (and others, during their live shows) an immediate critique of what I’d just said. The typical way of handling this was in an “aircheck” session after the fact. We had recording devices that were triggered by the mic switch. They’d capture only the talking portion of the show, which you and the Program Director could listen to and he or she could rip to shreds later. In hindsight, doing it during the show was heavy-handed and largely unnecessary.

But that’s showbiz!

Everyone in the media world also knows what it’s like to get criticism from outside. Whether it’s about what they’re wearing, how they sound, political rhetoric – direct access to media personalities brings them less positive feedback than you’d imagine.

I’m eternally grateful that I left broadcasting before the pandemic. I don’t think I’m strong enough to have survived what my peers went through. RESPECT.

Over the years, I mellowed a lot about my own errors. If I screwed something up on air, I’d vow not to do it again, but not beat myself up. Perfection is an unattainable goal and no way to measure performance. So, note to self. Even your everyday, garden variety “helpful” correction that’s much shorter than six pages, is best kept to oneself.

7 thoughts on “Evaluation Presentation Hastens Chasten Realization!”

  1. Claire Cascone

    One thing I know for sure is that I obviously did not pay enough attention during English class at school. I often question myself before submitting a written comment as I realize how unsure I am about punctuation. As for spelling, Spellcheck helps, but I wish there was something that tells you when it’s correct to enter that comma or period. It sure would be helpful and appreciated in my case.
    Thanks for sharing another interesting blog, Lisa.

    1. Thanks, Claire. Microsoft Word will suggest where to put in commas and other punctuation. But that’s not always correct either. For example, the editor of a magazine that I work with doesn’t want the Oxford Comma. It took me a long time to figure out where that, goes, and it’s not wanted in this case! LOL maybe that’s a sign that we do need to go a little easier on others’ writing. Because the rules shift like sand under our feet!

  2. Guilty as charged! Yes, being helpful can get you into trouble, been there, done that. But it’s in my DNA. Never again, well until the next time.

  3. Correcting or offering criticism is such a slippery slope, In public broadcasts,you often hear an error, whether it’s pronunciation ot lacking in context, and a listener may hear it once. If it’s in a radio or tv news cast where the information is shared on the half hour, you may hear it once as being incorrect, then by the next break the error is corrected. If it’s not, and you hear it again, either there’s no one in support to help them, or perhaps their on air colleagues are letting them swing for it. You can bet that error maker has made their colleagues aware of how they feel about constructive criticism 😊

  4. When I make an error in a post, it’s not just about the error. It raises questions about my credibility as a journalist. It gives the media haters a reason to discount the information all journalists try to provide their audience.

    So when you say, “Hey, Dan, noticed something in your latest post . . . ” I will pay attention and not bark at you because I know you want me to do the best work I can. You are HELPING me. It comes from a place of LOVE.

    It also helps coming from you because you’ve been there! I know it’s coming from one of the wisest people I know.

    Idea for you: A book about making mistakes and how to learn from them.

    Another idea for you: A post about airchecks. I think I get the idea, but would love to hear more about your experiences. I know you aircheck other broadcasters and offer them feedback, would love to hear about this as a mentor and teacher!

  5. You and I have an unspoken agreement: when we spot something (written) or hear it in each other’s conversations in our podcast, (plug here for Gracefully & Frankly starring Lisa Brandt and featuring me as her sidekick – it’s your blog post LOL), we make that correction. We say “you missed…” or “I think you meant to say such-and-such; let’s take that again”. SO much better than letting it sit there, wrong, for the world to witness! A meme I saw about straightening a friend’s crown without letting the world know it was crooked, is perfect. It comes down to “do people know your heart?” and maybe if they don’t, skip it?

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