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Our culture of criticism

Last time I wrote about New Zealand's 'tall poppy syndrome', and our propensity to cut ourselves down before others get the chance. Here I thought I would share some ruminations on a related subject - our culture of criticism. At my place of work (a government department), we have just completed our end-of-year reviews. As part of these reviews, it is standard practice for the manager of each member of his team to speak to three 'referees' (colleagues - generally peers - who have worked closely with the staff member over the year) for their views on the person's performance. The default questions asked of these referees are: 'What did this person do well over the last year?' and 'What could

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