A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:
“Someone I know received an award. I don’t think that they are deserving. What should I do?”
A reply from the Minister:
Spoiler alert. This was really my question. I’m allowed to ask questions, too, right? If you follow my feed you saw me ask basically the same question on my friends’ list.
I felt it was a good chance to check in with people and see what their thoughts were and to get some different perspectives. There were a lot of great ideas and I think that they are worth sharing more broadly.
Also. I get that this is a broad question that deals with all parts of the SCA. It is not solely A&S related. However, these kinds of things do come up a lot with A&S recognitions and I am comfortable addressing it for those reasons and hopefully it can be helpful everywhere.
So, back to that reply.
Start by thinking about why are you even asking this? What is your basis of opinion? Where are you starting from? Do you already hold the award yourself? Are you a member of the Order or have that same rank? Are you presuming superiority?
Be honest with yourself. Is this a moment of jealousy? Is this part of a personal issue that really has nothing to do with the award?
Start with that self-assessment. Be mindful of what’s making you feel the way you feel and that will help you know what next steps you should take.
Okay. Now. Maybe you’re right. Maybe the award is not a great fit. And maybe you’re wrong. Maybe there are some things you don’t know about.
Unless you are the Crown it is not your decision to make or decide if it is right or not. Keep that in mind.
Here’s how I would approach it.
Have fun. Learn. Teach.
That is a motto I try to live by in the SCA. So, I have decided that however I go about addressing this issue needs to fit in that framework.
So, nope, I am not going to walk up to someone and say, “now you’ve got to earn it.” That’s not going to make either of us feel good. That’s not how you make a good mentor. That’s not how someone learns.
Nope, I am not going to walk up to someone and say, “You don’t deserve this.” Same trouble. No one feels good. No one learns. No one teaches.
Here are some things I am going to do:
* Have I checked in with others? Maybe I am off base in my assessment. Maybe my standards are too high. Maybe I don’t have all the details. I need to be open to being wrong.
* Can I have another conversation with the person? Not about getting the award. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad. But, maybe we were just having a misunderstanding. Maybe they’ve done work I don’t know about.
* Can I speak with the person’s peer or mentor? Maybe they have some way that we can mutually help the person.
* Is this recognition for a Peerage? Then I can speak with the candidate before elevation at their vigil. Again, I do not want to ruin their day. I’ll go in a congratulatory manner and I will take the opportunity to emphasize the positive aspects of their work and behavior. I want to focus on the good parts and build those up.
* I can encourage the person to continue exemplifying those aspects that helped them earn the recognition.
* I can give the person a chance. Again, maybe I was wrong. Maybe the person is ready. I should give them a chance in their new role without judging them based off older events.
* Can I find common ground by empathize with challenges of the new role and accept that we may have differences of opinion? We’re all human. We can disagree and that’s okay. We can make mistakes and that’s okay. I am not going to expect total alignment or perfection of any one. That would not be fair to the person or to others.
* After the award is granted, I can caution the person on questionable behavior as it happens. Make the context of the conversation about how the person’s actions could be in opposition to the person’s own goals and good experiences.
* Sometimes bad behavior does happen. Sometimes mistakes happen. That’s okay if we allow that we are all human and that we own up to our own actions. It is important to keep these kinds of events transparent. That’s how we learn from our experiences and continue to grow.
* I can work as a positive example myself. Be the person you want candidates to be. That’s the best way you can show the populace what a good example is of an award recipient or an Order member.
* Advocate for exemplary behavior and achievement. Focus on the best qualities of these people. Keep striving for excellence and promoting our best achievements.
And, really, these strategies work to encourage all kinds of people. I think I’ll be using them with anyone to help create good experiences for everyone.
These are things that I think will work for me. You’ll have different ways that work for you. People are welcome to share their approaches too. We learn best by listening to each other.
Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!
Your Servant to Command,