3 ways to conquer criticism
Clarity of focus leads to accuracy of response
Criticism: the expression or disapproval of someone based on perceived thoughts or mistakes. Criticism can lead to self-doubt.
In order to conquer any perceived threat to your wellbeing, sense of worth and value, it’s important to understand your adversary.
Like a tick that instantly latches on and continually sucks the blood right out of you, criticism takes a bite out of your sense of value and will stay latched on until you pull it off.
However, similar to a tick, if you leave the head and only take the body, it will actually grow a new body! If you don’t yank out the belief you make about yourself completely because of a criticism, it will continue to suck the life out of your sense of worth and value.
Let’s jump in with a few coaching questions:
- When was the last time you were criticized?
- What belief did you make about yourself as a result of the criticism?
- Was this the first time you have heard this criticism?
- What part of the criticism do you own?
Clarity of focus leads to accuracy of response. How you answer these questions will offer you key pieces of information that can create a conqueror’s mindset: giving more authority to the strength, wisdom and discernment of God within you than to the criticism outside of you.
When was the last time you were criticized? This question allows you to step off the stage of the drama in your mind and connect to past experiences, which gives you the opportunity to observe criticism from a reflective state of mind verses the reactive state of your emotions: hmmm, that was an interesting criticism…what was that about? Be the detective of your emotional flare-ups triggered by criticism rather than a key actor in the drama.
What belief did you make about yourself as a result of the criticism? A belief about yourself is usually made instantaneously.
How do you know you have made a belief about yourself? Your emotions get involved and the natural protection instincts kick in: fight, flight or freeze. Basically, you are highjacked by the words another person says about you.
Next time you are criticized ask yourself: what belief am I making about myself in this moment? Some examples of beliefs that slither in the mind as a result of a criticism are: I’m not good enough; I can’t handle it; I’m not valued; I don’t matter.
Was this the first time you have heard this criticism? This coaching question allows you time to get off the stage of the drama and use executive thinking to connect the dots.
Here is a personal example: Hmmm, have I been criticized for interrupting my husband before? What is this about? What do I want to do about this? The fact was, interrupting other people was a pattern in my behavior that I never paused to acknowledge. This question gives you the opportunity to notice and reflect on any patterns of behavior that have a negative impact on your relationships with other people.
What part of the criticism do you own? This is a big question to reflect on the next time you are criticized as it offers you the opportunity to take ownership of the criticism rather than allowing it to bite into your self-worth and ignite defensive behavior. Using the example of interrupting my husband, as soon as I took ownership of the behavior being criticized, I was in the driver’s seat. Because I am now aware that I interrupt, I am now able to practice impulse control, which is still one of the number one attributes of effective leaders.
Explore three ways to conquer criticism and let go of false beliefs about yourself that fuel self-doubt.
1. Ignore the urge to one up the other person: Often times our knee-jerk reaction to criticism will be to criticize the other person back. For example: I don’t like the way you presented today, I thought it was flat.
A one up reactive response would be: Well, I didn’t like the way you led the conference call, you intimidated everyone and didn’t give anyone a chance to participate!
Whatever you minimize, starve by not giving it any air time (mental energy) between your two ears, will die. When you have the urge to one up someone, you are in the animal planet zone…nothing good comes from that zone.
Stop it before it stops you. This will help your mind and body relax as you see things in perspective. Your ability to handle the criticism successfully becomes bigger than the criticism itself.
2. Separate the person from the issue: This Sherpa Executive Coaching tool gives you the opportunity to gain clarity around the message without judging the messenger. When you separate the person from the issue you gain clarity around what’s really going on.
Too often the value of good feedback is lost in the translation of poor delivery. Be the detective here and ask questions to help clarify the issue behind the criticism. Two other questions to ask yourself when spun by a criticism: is this real or imagined? Is this mine or someone else’s?
When you ask yourself if this is real or imagined, you are looking closer to see if you are making an assumption or mind-reading. When you ask yourself if it’s mine or someone else’s, you offer yourself a pause to determine if the criticism is directly correlated to you or is it the messengers to own.
For example, someone criticizes you for pulling into a parking space that they had their eye on from the next row over and you had no idea. Is that yours to own? No, that belongs to the messenger, don’t give power to their poison to dilute your sense of safety and value. Shake it off and move on.
3. Remain centered and objective: This is one of 3 key coaching attributes from Sherpa Executive Coaching that offers you the opportunity to disassociate from the criticism. When you are centered and objective you are able to respond in a calm, confident manner.
You look at the criticism as an exchange of information regardless of the delivery system used, which gives you the ability to nail down the facts. To be centered means that you do not spill out of yourself. You remember your worth and value and you resist the urge to ‘tip over’ by giving the criticism to power to define you.
A negative belief about yourself is a ramification of thinking the criticism is you. When you stand outside the criticism, it does not have the power to define you unless you give it away.
To be objective means you are not influenced by personal feelings or opinions as you consider and represent the facts.
What if now moving forward, you made the commitment to stop, breathe and make the conscious decision to ignore the urge to 1-up along by not taking it personally, separate the person from the issue and remain centered and objective? These behaviors will give you the breathing room to keep what fits and return to the sender what doesn’t.
Stress Relief Tip: Because beliefs about ourselves too often happen in a split second, igniting the stress response because you feel attacked, you must address the stress where it manifests in your body.
Stand up and literally shake it off. Stomp your feet on the grounds and shake your body. Mimic as best you can a dog shaking off water.
This behavior interrupts the brain’s attempt at fixated thinking. It clears the cache of the mind so that you can implement the 3 ways to conquer criticism.
Lauren E Miller, has a Masters in Adult Education with a Certification in Human Resources Development. She has personally conquered two of life’s top stressors at the same time, advanced cancer and divorce. Now Google’s #1 Stress Relief Expert, Award Winning Author, HRD Trainer and Certified Sherpa Executive Coach, Lauren provides process driven programs and custom trainings with structure, guidance, support and accountability designed to create positive change in behavior resulting in positive impact on business (IOB) and life purpose. Explore More: http://LaurenEMiller.com.