If you’ve ever played a sport, you had a crash course in learning to deal with criticism.
Your trainers, coaches, teammates and opponents slapped you with it in different amounts, and you had to adjust on the fly.
The good thing about being criticized in sports is that sports involves the uses of our bodies: we could act out our disagreement, response or rebuttal to criticism with the most primal of human traits — physical action.
But when your sporting days are done, or if you never had sporting days, you deal with just as much criticism. Actually, you probably have to deal with more criticism when everyone’s in business clothing.
As a basketball player, If I felt a player on my team wasn’t very good, I’d plot to kick his ass every day in practice to prove my point, never needing to say a thing. I could work out my feelings through my performance (and maybe add some verbal material if I chose).
[dt_quote type=”blockquote” font_size=”h4″ animation=”none” background=”plain”]Bulletproof Mindset: Mental Toughness, Confidence, Discipline, Handling Negativity[/dt_quote]
In the suit-and-tie (or biz casual, or t-shirt and jeans) world, you don’t have an outlet for expressing your energy physically like a football player would. You have to deal with things 100% mentally and verbally.
Which presents some challenges, such as —
- Maybe you’re thin-skinned and not very good at taking criticism.
- Some people are just negative and mean, criticizing you unfairly and excessively.
- You want to punch people in the face, but would probably lose you job for doing so.
So what are the people in any of the above groups to do when faced with criticism? Whether it comes from a work superior, subordinate or a peer, utilize the following Mental Game strategies.
Find agreement with the criticism. You don’t want conflict at work. It costs money, time and energy that could be going toward business progress. Condition yourself to find agreement with people, in some way, always, and conflict is impossible.
So when you’re criticized, even if it’s 100% trash and unfair, YOUR job is to find a way to agree with it.
What, Dre?!? AGREE with unfair criticism?!?!
It’s not that you have to agree with exactly what has been said, but you can agree with your critic’s point of view. There’s something this person sees, from his perspective, that makes this criticism valid. You can agree with that, yes?
Note the truth, however minuscule, in the criticism. If someone is critical of you, there has to be at least a small amount of truth mixed in there. Politicians have used this tactic for ages in attacking their opponents — mix in a small amount of truth with a huge batch of theory and opinion, and point to that tiny ounce of truth when confronted.
People aren’t making up all of what they say critically of you. Find the true and accurate point of the criticism — and there always is at least one — and ask yourself what you can do to correct it.
Employ the critic in helping you improve. People like feeling powerful. Make people feel powerful — even if you’re their boss — and they will love you for it.
Asking for help is giving power to someone: they can help you with something you apparently cannot handle on your own (NOTE: Asking for help, even when you don’t really need it, is a great way to get what you want from people).
How does this work with criticism? Simple: the next time you’re criticized, ask the critic what they think you can do to change the critical point. What would you do, Mr. or Ms. Critic, if you were me? How would you improve? What’s your best advice for me moving forward?
I guarantee you that every critic on earth has plenty of great ideas for how their subjects can be better. All you have to do is ask and listen.
None of us loves criticism. But if we learn to deal with it the right way, it will not only make us better but improve our relationship with the critic herself. And it all starts with you changing how you look at criticism.