Unpacking hard feelings about A&S competitions

 question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“My friend is really upset after entering an A&S competition. They are very angry and are saying they will never enter an A&S activity again. What can I do to help?”

A reply from the Minister:

First off, thank you for offering to help. It is hard to see our friends get upset or angry or sad or frustrated. So we want to help where we can. That’s commendable.

Second, A&S competitions are not for everyone. And really many kinds of A&S activities are not for everyone. Please do not try and convince someone to do something that’s not right for them. They may be best served never participating in an A&S competition again. And, that’s okay. There are lots of ways to enjoy A&S. Let your friend have fun the way that brings them joy.

Now.

If we think about it, many of us have probably experienced this situation ourselves. Right? So it may help to answer this as if we were in the same situation ourselves. What would we do? How could we be a good example? Can we then coach people into the same steps?

Me? I would start with a self-assessment.

Why am I upset? What am I angry about? What’s got me frustrated? Start there. If you can put words to feelings then you can start to take action.

Here are just a few examples of what I mean.

Did you read the rules one way? And then they were implemented another way? Or maybe even changed on you as the competition was happening? Then that’s a problem with how the competition was run. You can talk to the organizer or the A&S Office about that.

Did you get a judge that gave you difficult feedback? You can talk to them. Or talk to the organizers. Or talk to the A&S Office.

Did you not like having your entry judged? That’s okay. You don’t need to enter competitions. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with how the judging works. Maybe it is just not right for you. Try a display or artisans row or something else instead.

Did you show up late and not get the time you expected to show off your entry? That’s not on the activity then. That means you need to arrive in time to get all the feedback you’re hoping to receive.

Did you want to make a deliberate display of expertise or knowledge (i.e. “show off”) to some judges or senior A&S community members? Judges are there to give you feedback and help run a competition. They are typically not signing up for a class. While judges do hope to learn you may want to sign up to teach a class instead.

Did you expect to win? But then you didn’t? Wanting to win is good. Ensuring a win is outside your control. Be reasonable to yourself and reset your expectations. Never walk in expecting you have it in the bag. Try to win, sure, but also go in looking to learn.

Did you expect a different score than you received? You can talk to the organizer or the A&S Office about that. You may need to have your entry rescored.

Those are just a few examples.

Basically.

Figure out why you’re upset. See what you can do to fix it.

Talk to your judge. Or the event organizer. Or the A&S officer. Or a friend.

The A&S Officer could be your Local A&S Officer, or the Regional Officer, or you can even come to me as the Kingdom A&S Officer. We want to see things working out and people happy.

Not sure of who to talk to? Ask for help.

Not sure if you are in the right place? Check.

Get a second opinion and see if there is something else you can do to fix the experience.

Here’s something I suggest not doing:

Going on social media sites to complain. It may feel good to vent. It may feel good to have some affirmation from your social network. You’re also not respecting the people who volunteered to run the activity or be your judge or try their best. Go to them first and give them a chance. Venting online doesn’t actually help you or them.

Here’s what I would like:

I’d like to see entrants and judges working well together. That means constructive criticism and active listening going on between people showing respect and valuing each other.

That’s a reputation we can support throughout our organization.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,

~p.w.

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