How do we respond to coaching, feedback, correction – euphemisms for the c-word, criticism? How does it feel when we receive unsolicited feedback? "Be more aggressive.” “Be less abrasive." “I wouldn’t say that if I were you.” It’s helpful to learn how other people see us and to hear their suggestions for change. But it would be easier if criticism didn't come packaged as faultfinding.
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.– WINSTON CHURCHILL
We all chase mastery in our chosen areas of interest. For artists, authors, performers, producers, or directors, there are critics who specialize in examining our work and reporting their opinions publicly. The job of our teachers is to provide ongoing evaluation and coaching. Business managers give performance appraisals to point out what we're doing well and where to build new skills. In our personal lives, some of us have friends brave enough to tell us the truth when we ask.
“We need very strong ears to hear ourselves judged; and because there are few who can endure frank criticism without being stung by it, those who venture to criticize us perform a remarkable act of friendship; for to undertake to wound or offend a man for his own good is to have a healthy love for him. – MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE
Criticism may seem like disapproval but it's really an opportunity in disguise.
"I didn't take constructive criticism the way I should have. When I finally caught up to that, that's when I went to being the MVP. " – ALLEN IVERSON
So how do we receive critical input without resistance and resentment? Here's some guidance from colleagues with positive attitudes about the c-word and eagerly seek feedback.
~ Although the comment is about you, try not to be insulted. It's one person's perspective in that moment.
~ Test the merit of this new viewpoint. Assess the risks and the possibilities.
~ Consider the motive behind the critique. It could be that this individual took valuable time to notice you and to coach you – that’s pretty generous!
When compliance is automatic, question it too.
~ Do you feel obligated to respond?
~ Is there pressure to agree because of the other person’s authority?
~ Is there a desire to please her; a reluctance to displease him – maybe both?
Take time to understand your reactions. Does the change feel strange and uncomfortable – most change does? Will this align with your values? Will it add to your skill set; enhance your style, personality, and effectiveness; help achieve your goals?
“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” - NORMAN VINCENT PEALE
"Fully alive people are always thoughtful and reflective. They are capable of asking the right questions of life and flexible enough to let life question them. They will not live an unreflected life in an unexamined world." – FR. JOHN POWELL
Inspiration: Byron Katie, Sources: Brainyquote.com