critiquers, complainers and quarterbacks

Colin Powell’s Rule #12 Continued:  Don’t take councel from your fears or naysayers.

In the last post, I talked about not taking counsel of your fears.  Now onto the second group not to take counsel from…naysayers.

No matter what church you are a part of, or whether you are an audio, video or lighting person, we all have the same groups of naysayers:

“How hard can it be? All’s you’ve got to do is…”

“It’s too loud.” or “Why do you have to shine the light in my eyes.”

“We can’t put the drums there.  We always put them on stage right.”

These are just a few examples of types of naysayers:  some that don’t understand anything about the world of production; those that are just consumers of the content you are trying to enhance; and team members that always have a better idea of what you should have done.  How do we handle each of these different groups?


Most non-production people have no idea what it takes to do what you do and for many of them, they just see the end result of all your hard work.  To help educate the uneducated, we need to figure out a way to tell the story about what it takes to do the amazing things that you do.  To just say “yes” or “no”, without a story isn’t helpful.

One way would be to keep a log of what you spend your time on each week and how long certain types of ideas take.  This kind of concrete information will help put context around what is truly involved with making production happen.  It is also helpful to always be telling your story, especially when the pressure isn’t on.  Waiting until something really needs to be done to tell me it usually takes 200 hours of work, is helpful, but not as helpful as if I knew that part of the story sooner.


There will always be a line of people at the booth after a service to complain about the volume, or the bright lights, or the haze in the room.  You cannot get rid of this group of naysayers, no matter how hard you try.  There are 2 necessary elements to not being overwhelmed by these comments.

Have a great understanding of who you listen to.  Is it the senior pastor?  Is it the music director?  Is it your Aunt Bertha?  Who helps you make the decisions about how loud it should get, or what kind of lighting you do, or whether to use haze or not.  Understanding why you do some of these things really matters.  Having someone that you listen to for feedback is critical.

Now that you know whose opinion matters, you can let the comments from complainers roll off you back, but you still have to deal with them.  What should you do?  Be nice.  Listen.  Hear what they have to say.  Is there any truth to what they are complaining about?  If they aren’t satisfied with your answers, have your boss connect with them.

Monday Morning Quarterbacks

It is always easier to see better choices after something is already been done.  In some ways, responding to this group is very similar to the consumers.  Listen to what they are saying, pull the helpful parts out of their complaints and then move on.  There is no way to plan for something perfectly, so get over the fact that you can’t please everyone with the perfect plan.  Something will always not go according to plan, so there will be critique.

I like Dwight Eisenhower’s quote that I have referenced before:

“Planning is everything.  Plans are nothing.”

Making mistakes is a great way to learn what not to do again.  It is the way that we can stretch and get better.  Acknowledge the errors, thank people for their observations, and learn from them for next time.

Naysayers are a part of life.  Tech people are universally known for not dealing with them very well.  It is up to you and I to change that perception.

photo by: jmegjmeg