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Accepting criticism

Criticism weighs more on our emotions than praise does. 

We remember negative events more vividly than positive ones, and we give more emotional weight to a loss than an equivalent gain.

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We tend to be more passive in life than we would be if we weighed negativity and positivity the same.

Bad outcomes seem to weight more in terms of punishment than good outcomes weight in terms of benefit, so it can seem sensible to speak out and try new things as infrequently as possible.

Elbert Hubbard
“To escape criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.<

Criticism is about all the critic’s experience, not the target’s. 

It all begins with an internal reaction between what the critic sees and what it reminds him of.

The critic is really just reacting to an appearance that happened to include you, filtered through his own worldview, emotional state, and personal experience. 

While the process for the critic is very often superficial and ephemeral when we’re criticized we take it as an indictment of our selves directly, of our very being. 

From the sender, it may really mean “I don’t like what this seems like,” but to the recipient, it feels like “You shouldn’t be who you are.” This is why we keep thinking about it for hours or days.

The most powerful tool for responding to criticism is empathy.

We are in a much better position to learn from criticism (and minimize its sting) when we think of it as something that is happening in someone else’s head.

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RELATED IDEAS

Feel The Love

We tend to focus on negativity because it comes easy to us, but there’s really no reason to.

For every mean or ill-informed critic, there are typically dozens, if not hundreds of people who will love and support what you do wholeheartedly.

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IDEAS

  • Distance Yourself From the Situation to allow you to calm down. Do not react or take it personally. 
  • Try to Understand Your Boss's Intentions. Is he's upset with your performance or exceptionally stressed or prone to say things he doesn't fully mean?
  • Summarize the Criticism. Repeat back exactly what you think she's driving at. Try and word the criticism in a more positive light. "so you're saying I need to find a new work strategy so I can improve my performance?"
  • Explain Your Perspective. The more specific you can be here, the better. 

  • Engage in a Dialogue. Work together with your boss to hash out the unspoken details of the criticism.

  • Suggest an Action Plan and make sure to follow it.
  • Consider Giving Criticism of Your Own if the criticism is misdirected.  Tell your boss that his/her criticism was unwarranted or unhelpful, but suggest alternative strategies he/she can use in the future to make his/her criticism better.
Pick Up The Phone

Shame works better if we keep it secret. So find the courage to do the counterintuitive thing and tell someone what happened -- invariably those conversations end with laughter.