Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Week Four of Dancing On Ice is complete. Another eight to go. Some of the couples are getting into their stride others still feeling their way. Early days.

The hothouse of DOI creates a 'reality situation' that provokes accelerated learning of dance with the slip factor of ice. The format is always creating surprises, drama and breakthroughs.

Yet one thing is not a surprise. Once again I find myself reflecting upon how the words spoken out might impact the people they are aimed at and the wider viewership and also how I should react to them personally?

To my mind words either build up or tear down. I prefer the former. On DOI I care that each person and couple do the best they can and become the best they are capable of becoming. I have a passion for encouraging this. It is hard wired into my DNA it seems.

It is always interesting therefore to be in close proximity to those who do not appear to share that view at times in their 'show persona'.

It is a challenge for me in life, and perhaps for you too, in how to deal with harsh words spoken or humour that is clever and derisive, belittling, insidious. Do I ignore it? Do I attack back? If I do nothing am I weak? Turn the other cheek the bible says? If someone else is attacked do I seek to protect them or do I not let it bother me justifying my stance in the light of the words being 'just pantomime'?

No doubt some would say methinks too much? Just get on with it, stiff upper lip etc.. However I do reflect on these things at this time as they are provoked by my DOI involvement. What impact on our society are we having or is it simply 'a show'?

There is a part of me that admires the ability to create one liners that provoke derogatory images with a sense of wicked 'fun' from what is performed before us in a very tight timeframe. It is undoubtedly a skill. But...

My belief is that words can damage people and I know we/I hear negatives louder than positives. It has been proven that a negative occurs as 6 to 10 times louder than a positive to the recipient. So how do I choose to respond? Is some criticism that is provocative useful?

Taking the challenge and provocation idea I am reminded of a former fitness trainer of mine who - when I was doing abb crunches on the floor forty minutes through a training session - put his face to mine and shouted "The girls are doing better than you!" Which provoked a smile from me and even more effort! He was a great coach and motivator. We had some Olympic athletes in that room too which gave me a spur to compete and a nodded well done from our coach to me one week made me feel ten feet tall. He had our respect, he had our total commitment and he had a distance from us that maintained his authority. He was a former Sargent Major and 65, my he was amazingly fit.

A judge though is a different persona to a coach and yet, for me having been a business and life coach and having been coached on ice and off I find myself aiming to not only judge fairly but to inspire and encourage improvement and caring for those competing.

I once wrote and presented a seminar for judges and parents for the National Ice Skating Association. The idea came from the CEO of NISA and was looking at the paradigm of Customer Service against 'Being a Judge'. The seminar challenged the senior judges present to provide criticism that did not 'tear down' the participants with the objective that those competing would 'Keep Skating' no matter what marks they got. There was uproar in the room when I started putting forward these ideas, feelings were running high from threatened judges and angry parents. The cork was out of the bottle with regard to 'Don't tell us what to do' and 'What you have done to me/my child!' By the end of the morning session a quiet calm had decended upon everyone as lunch was taken. Perhaps it was the therapy of realising the impact judges words could have on competitors if harshly delivered? Perhaps it was the seeing the judges take on role pay that challenged and changed their view? Perhaps it was in the process itself that some found a release - mainly in shouting at me the presenter for around 20 minutes at the opening! Perhaps it was in how I presented the initial ideas and my history with some of those judges!!! What ever it was there was a positive shift for many there as understanding dawned.

This year at the British Championship the majority of our men skated in a way that suggested a disaster was about to happen and when faults duly happened a shrug and on to the next element was the norm. There seemed to me a swing of the pendulum to a culture that now accepted lacklustre performances without fight. I wrote in iSkate about the need for a warrior spirit from the men and challenged them to show this. My words were designed to provoke a fight back so that they can become worthy of competing on the international stage. No one is interested if you don't fight to be the best you can be.

Questions without a clear answer as yet and the usual frustration that aggression gets more airtime than good news. What's new?

I shall reflect further on this conundrum this week. In the gym, my work at Spartan Training hitting the bag with the boxing gloves might prove to be even more robust and therapeutic than usual?



Anonymous said...

I have to say when watching DOI I only ever pay attention to what you, Karen and Robin have to say. I'm sick of Jason saying things that are not constructive to anyone just plain insulting.

I know many people who agree that its the opinions of you, Karen and Robin that count.

Nic said...

I think different people need different comments at different times.
Sometimes people need to hear a glimmer of a compliment e.g. "It was well done but improvement still needs to be done" then explanation in the rest of the comment.
Sometimes they need a "good kick up the bum" with a harsh/unharsh negative comment.

If you hear negative all the time well then you think you are not good enough and perhaps give up but if you hear "Well done" all the time then it doesn't make you strive for better.

5225 said...