Helpful critique

The other night, I had my second bouldering competition. (Read here about the first one.)

It was organized differently than the first one. As a person who appreciates both efficiency and safety, I liked how it was set up. As a person who prefers to boulder without people watching, I didn’t like it at all.

If I had gone later in the evening, there would have been more other people climbing at the same time, and I could have been blissfully ignored. But I went second, so there weren’t many of us to watch.

There also weren’t many people watching, to be truthful—less than half a dozen—but still. My preferred number is zero.

In the second area I climbed, I had to get out of an overhang. I don’t have a lot of experience doing that, so it wasn’t comfortable and I didn’t really know what I was doing, or how to better do what I was trying to do.

Onlookers cheered! Yay! But that meant onlookers looked.


The people watching are better climbers than I. (That’s just a statement of relative skill levels—not at all a diss to myself—and there’s no shame in it.) They could have, when I was done, given me advice on how to improve.

In that case, I would have been much more comfortable. I’m pretty good at receiving useful feedback when offered in useful ways.

On the other hand, some people don’t want to hear it. So if you’re the one with the potentially useful information, how do you decide if you should speak up or not?

Variables, I guess. At the comp, there were others climbing after me who they were watching, so there wasn’t time to chat.

I’ve talked to these people enough that I think they would know that I know that I’m not good at bouldering, which makes it more likely that I’d be open to feedback. If I was terrible at it but thought I was great, I would not likely be able to hear what they were saying.

And part of it comes down to: do you want to be helpful? If you’re not one who likes to approach people regardless, can you get over that hurdle?

“Hey, I was watching you climb, and I have some thoughts that might help. Would you like to hear them?”

Yes, please!

If you know better, help someone else to do better.

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