Accelerating the Advancement of Women Leaders 

MAKE FRIENDS WITH CRITICISM

December 12, 2018

One reason leaders avoid providing feedback (see related article at left) is how we react when they do. Arms crossed? Total shut down? Defiance? Anger? Quivering lip? However well intended, negative feedback can send even seasoned professionals into a downward spiral. But, if you can manage your first reactions, you may get to a pearl of wisdom that will increase your effectiveness and accelerate your progress.
 
Women often take criticism harder and more personally than men do, according to research from PscyhTests, a company that offers a free 71-question online Sensitivity to Criticism Test. Women are more likely to be hard on themselves for not doing something well where men are likely to convince themselves the critic is wrong or to argue the point.
 
If we can truly hear criticism we receive, however, there is often a lot to be gained. Norman Vincent Peale once said, “The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” It’s only by learning where we haven’t measured up that we can make changes, improve and strive toward our greatest potential.
 
Get curious and get on with it
If you can put your emotions on hold for just a minute, you will give yourself an opportunity to evaluate negative feedback honestly and test it for validity. By accessing your inquisitive spirit (rather than your emotions), you may find real value in the critique.  
 
One way to do that is to interview yourself, even out loud if it helps. You might ask:
 
Did this honestly reflect my best work?
Does this criticism point to a larger pattern of behavior?
Have I received similar criticism from other sources?
Would I have drawn the same conclusion if the roles were reversed?
Can I improve in this area on my own or do I need help?
Do I know where to get help?
Can I get an objective second opinion from someone who will be candid with me?
Does this person have my best interests in mind?
How will improving in this area advance my career?
 
Unless you feel the criticism is meant to hurt, offend or derail you, toughen up enough to hear it, thank the critic and get busy using those golden nuggets to take your performance to the next level.
 


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