Everyone is impacted by criticism of some sort. But leaders and those who take risks with new ideas are commonly targeted. There is not much we can do to completely stop criticism. But there are some things we can learn, and there are ways of protecting ourselves from the negative effects. Here below are seven things I’ve learned about “crunching” criticism.
1. There is some level of truth in every criticism
It is difficult to acknowledge this, but it is true. The rest may be things conjured up with their misunderstandings, emotions, and whatever baggage they carry along. However, in every criticism that comes your way, find the kernel of truth and learn from it.
2. Verify what you heard or read
Double check the information before you respond. Sometimes you hear it wrong, and sometimes others communicate it incorrectly. Ask for clarification directly to the person who is responsible for the criticism.
3. Give yourself time to cool off
Waiting a day or more to respond is a great way to give yourself time to cool off. This will allow your emotions to step aside and your brain can begin to function again. Time may not heal, but a little time will help you respond better.
4. Separate your emotions from the facts
While you take a day or more to cool off, this is what you can do. Your emotions will put a negative filter on your thinking. Now begin to detect that filter and begin to separate the facts from your emotional reactions.
Unresolved negative experiences from the past will impact your thinking more than you’ll care to admit. Pain, regrets, and unresolved issues are a great hindrance to rational thinking.
5. Know yourself
When you are questioned, and when your integrity is questioned, that is when you also begin to wonder about yourself. Questioning by others can be a deadly time bomb building up the tensions within you.
This is where you need to be sure about yourself. Your self understanding will become one of your greatest assets.
6. Take the meat and leave the bones
Through every criticism, there are some things to learn. As mentioned in our first point, we can surely find some nugget of truth within every criticism.
You will also learn some things through the entire process. Your accuser becomes vividly clear as they aim their offenses at you. You learn some things about yourself that you’ve never realized: your reactions, emotions, defenses, and a variety of internal issues.
Finally, your best alternative is to forgive your offender. Even if the person has purposefully targeted you, your only reasonable option is to forgive. Not forgiving is an option, but it will cost us much. Unforgiveness impacts our emotions and relationships in dangerous ways.
These are my seven principles for crunching criticism as a leader. When criticism comes your way, keep these pointers in mind and watch your words, emotions, and reactions. Go ahead and lead well.
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