“You can do better.”
Those words might be meant as saying, “you’re good and you can even be better”.as “You can do even better.”
But, what I will probably hear, instead, is “you aren’t good enough”, “this is crap” or “you don’t measure up”.
Not often does this statement bring much delight to the person it’s been directed towards. Having established that, we are left with generous range of possible reactions that will be expressed in whatever way the general nature of a person is inclined. Being told that whatever it was we had done had room for improvement, will tend to evoke any number of expected responses.
As someone prone to being quite sensitive to comments such as “you can do better” and hear only criticism and disappointment closely followed by my wondering whether I actually could do better or if that was the best I could actually do.
Taken as a statement that says, in effect, I made a disappointing effort and could have done a good job if I wasn’t so _________________. Fill-in this blank with any choice of character flaws–lazy, dishonest, unreliable, etc..
Or, more to the point, I did something bad on purpose which means I must be a bad person.
But, if I am reminded of the following quote by Maya Angelou:
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
A commitment I intend to make to those, including myself, who have a vested interest in my performance and can successfully determine if it can or cannot be done better:
As soon as I know better, I promise that I will do better.
If you know that my personal best, now, can be improved, empower me with the knowledge to achieve that betterment.
Let’s both assume the best. You assume that I am always delivering the best I can do. I will assume you have assumed as much before suggesting it could be better.