Overrated

A few weeks ago, I picked up a salad from a restaurant via the drive-thru window. Before I’d even gotten out of the parking lot, my phone dinged, notifying me of an incoming email. When I got home, I saw the email was a survey request from the restaurant I had just left. Really? You want me to evaluate my drive-thru experience before I even exit your parking lot? Yes, indeed, and also the quality of the food, the food quality and quantity in relation to the price, the friendliness and knowledge of the staff, the condition of the restaurant (I guess I was supposed to check to see if the outside of the building needed to be pressure washed or the parking lot hosed off), and a whole bunch of other questions, none of which I cared to answer.

What is it with every business wanting you to rate them? Call any utility company for help with a problem and the first thing they do is ask you is to agree to taking a survey at the end of the call. Help me fix my problem first! Then, I might take your survey, but I’m not going to commit my time to making you feel better about your performance.

For a while every time we went to the doctor or had a test performed I received a long survey in the mail wanting me to rate every aspect of the visit. And with online surveys, if you mark anything other than the best choice, it populates more boxes with more questions. Why did you give a rating other than excellent? What could we do better? Eventually, you just mark excellent on everything to get to the end of the stupid thing. How can marking all the superlatives possibly produce accurate answers?

While I realize this is all part of an attempt to at least appear to be providing customer service, I wonder if all the rating of everything has turned us into a society where everyone feels inclined to express their opinions and get rewarded for doing so. Rating also feeds the whole one-upmanship mentality.

Here are a few things I’ve observed about why people want to be rated:

Insecurity – Those who constantly need to have their performance rated are insecure. They aren’t confident enough in their own skills and knowledge to function without someone telling them what a good job they’re doing.

Hoping for positive feedback – I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t love to hear praise, but feedback needs to be honest rather than what the person wants to hear.

Plagued by comparisons – People are constantly comparing themselves to others, hoping to equal or exceed those they see as their competition. Businesses are the same, each wanting to be the most innovative or prosperous, but comparisons are a trap. The more you compare yourself to others, the more dissatisfied you become with yourself.

Want affirmation, not critique – In the writing world, I constantly see the quest for affirmation rather than critique. Writers ask for a critique of their work, but what they really want is affirmation of what they’ve already written. They don’t want to learn or grow, rather they want to already have arrived.

We are all unique. If we function in our areas of strength, we don’t need to constantly ask others to rate us. Most of the time, ratings are arbitrary and designed to produce the desired result, thus, overrated.

Take affirmation when it comes, but avoid feeling you can’t function without it. Trust your God-given talents and abilities and move forward with confidence.

“For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.”  (John 12:43 NLT)

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2 Comments

  1. At the risk of sounding like a rating – excellent post! We all want to improve, but the point that constant comparison is a trap is true. Thanks for the reminder that God has given us each strengths, He values each of us, and He gives the best affirmation.

    1. Thanks, Harriet! This is one of those posts I thought might be a dud. The responses here and on social media reminded me to trust my ideas and my writing.

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