|In life, criticism is inevitable. In leadership, a lot of criticism is inevitable.
How to respond to criticism
First off, if it stings too deeply, ask yourself these questions:
– Is my identity tied too closely to my job?
– And is my identity tied too closely to how I’m doing in my job?
We often find our identity in our job. So when we get criticized, it is not just “I didn’t do a good enough job in this situation”, it is a hit to our core identity.
So the sting of criticism is felt at a level that affects us more than it should.
If we just deal with things on a surface level, we will always struggle. So we must first deal with our response to criticism on a deeper, heart level. We must understand what is going on when criticism doesn’t just sting but hurts us to the core.
Now for the practical, surface level.
Somethings to consider.
+ First, soften/lower your defenses. Our growth and maturity are often helped along by people who we would rather not help us grow.
I have had a few key moments in my life where I was “criticized” by people who I really liked and respected. These were important moments in my life that helped my growth.
I have had waaaayyyy more times when someone I didn’t like or didn’t know well criticized me. It is harder to hear this criticism but it still can be a good thing…if you will lower or soften your defenses.
I have heard the quote “Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t take advice from!” I think I understand the heart behind the quote, but I don’t necessarily agree with it.
If we truly have a teachable heart, we can learn a lot from people we would rather not learn from.
+ Secondly, evaluate. By lowering your defenses, you can better evaluate the situation.
Is the criticism valid? If so, be thankful for the opportunity to grow and get better. When we have our defenses up, we will always come to the conclusion that the criticism is non-sense and the person who criticized you is crazy.
You might want to ask those you trust to help navigate this criticism. We often will fool ourselves. If you enlist someone to help you make sense of the situation, make sure that person will speak the truth to you.
+ Thirdly, Own or disregard it!
If the criticism is valid, own it.
And I mean really own it.
If it isn’t valid, disregard it.
And I mean really disregard it. Disregarding criticism is crucial. If you can’t disregard it, you will allow someone’s unfair criticism to hold you hostage.
Criticism doesn’t have to paralyze or put us into a massive funk. It can be a tool to help us grow and get better.
When our identity is not in what or how we do our job, we can more critically evaluate what we need to learn and what we need to discard from criticism.
Criticism will find you as a leader. This often prevents leaders from seeking out feedback (which could turn into criticism). Don’t let criticism from some prevent you from asking for feedback from others.
In an effort to grow, I think we should invite people to help us be better.
+ These should be people you trust, that are around the situation, and people who will speak the truth.
+ I would not ask for advice or feedback from people who are not around the situation consistently. (Like parents. They are not at practice, weights, conditioning, etc)
+ I would also not ask for advice or feedback from people who are not bought in.
PS. Criticism always stings. I am not suggesting that it won’t sting. However, I personally have noticed that it sometimes stings to a level that points to my identity issues.