Conquer Criticism

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

Odds are you are going to get criticized this week. It may be your partner, a colleague, or your workout coach. There is almost certainly something that you will do wrong, someone will notice and want to make sure you know you screwed up and then to add insult to injury, they will want to point out how to do it better next time. Afterwards, you’ll feel bad about yourself for messing up and then feel worse for taking in all that criticism. I call that the double dump.

One way to build resilience from that situation is to develop a bit of a thicker skin to criticism. It’s not written anywhere that you have to accept criticism and making sure that any feedback on a mistake you make is (1) asked for (2) accurate, (3) fairly given and (4) helpful. Here are some ways you for you to be more in control about blame you may get:

  • Don’t accept unsolicited feedback: Even if your boss wants to give you some negative feedback, ask him or her if you can do an analysis first of what happened and then get back to them. This will give you a bit of time to figure out the situation first and will give the other person some time to consider what they want to say.
  • Frame the discussion: Take charge of the situation by acknowledging the mistake. This takes all the air out of the other person’s criticism. After all even your toughest critic doesn’t want to hit you while you’re down.
  • Keep the big picture in perspective: Remember the ideals you are targeting. Most of your efforts are outrageously successful and mistakes are a way to self-correct. If your critic is equally supportive when good things happen, as they are critical when bad things happen, then they get to give input. If not, then they are just blowhards.
  • Don’t take it personally: Keep in mind that it is the situation that is being dealt with and not you as a person. Usually events happen that are out of our control and all we can do is to hold on and get through it.
  • Practice selective listening: You are not going to make everyone happy and some people are going to be disappointed in your choices and decisions. While their feedback may be interesting, it may not be relevant for your situation. Listen appropriately and then you can decide if it’s helpful.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015


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