In today's episode of the Art of Likability, we lay out a three-step process for dealing with criticism. You hear it; I hear it; we all hear criticism. Just a fact of the everyday world-it happens as if it's automatic.
I've noticed that what's also automatic for a lot of people is their reaction to criticism. Most will automatically focus on their failures and magnify them. It's almost like a natural reaction!
Our three step process for dealing with criticism discusses this "natural reaction" and aims to circumvent it by installing habits of being grateful. Jump in and see what you think!
Weeds vs. Flowers
I'd like for you right now to picture two things in your head: a weed, and a flower.
One of them is annoying, seems to grow naturally without you tending to it, and drains the resources from anything else. Weeds indeed. Flowers, crops, everything good, on the other hand require careful gardening and watering in order to get the desired result (Can I get an "amen" from the good people at Farmer's Only?!)
Weeds are like criticism, and flowers are like constructive and helpful reinforcement. It's only too easy to feed these weeds and watch them grow.
Have you ever gotten criticism before and fixated on it? I've noticed that many people tend to automatically magnify any criticism they get and feed their confirmation bias for their own failure.
If they show up late for a meeting and hear that they're completely disorganized, they're flooded with confirmation bias that, yeah, that one time I scrambled to get out the door for my daughter's school play...yeah, there was that one time back in college where I walked in 30 minutes late to a test...
Then they confirm to themselves that they're hopelessly disorganized, after only focusing on times where they (truly) were disorganized.
This kind of stuff happens like NATURALLY and UNINTENTIONALLY, just like the weeds growing on your lawn!
It is much more difficult to husband and develop small seeds of constructive optimism and reinforcement into flowers. You almost need to make a conscious effort to "block out the noise" and focus on your mission at hand.
But like we established at the beginning: criticism inevitably happens. What are you going to do about it, now that you can picture how one insinuation can set off a WHOLE BUNCH of automatic self-flagellation!
Here, we discuss the three step process for kicking the automatic negativity and positioning ourselves to grow our flowers.
1. Acknowledge the Criticism
I can't stress it enough. If you create or build something, you will draw criticism.
Acknowledge the criticism and the effect it has on your emotions. Let's take an example from my life for instance. You know I LOVE hearing how people have succeeded because this podcast was able to help in a little way, but I read through a recent two-star review which didn't seem as such:
The automatic path is to launch into negative confirmation bias! Proceed to think about all the times you failed and convince yourself with all this cherrypicking! Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
No. While you can acknowledge the criticism, be sure to snap yourself out of the knee-jerk reaction. That leads to step two...
2. Ask Yourself
You have to ask yourself next: are you that thing which you're getting critiqued on?
If someone tells you that you have bad breath, whoops! As you instinctively reach for a breath mint, ask yourself: are you that bad breath? Of course not! That's a problem you can fix quickly.
What about something more personal? What if someone just doesn't like the way that you speak? If that is truly who you are, then that's not something you should worry too much about.
As we counteract the natural knee-jerk reaction to confirm criticism, we need to set the stage for tending our future flowers:
3. All That You're Grateful For
In the third step, we set the stage for tending our future flowers. Maybe you want to reverse the criticism and "prove the haters wrong." As you ask and hope for improvement, also make a mental note of all that you are thankful for.
I have a habit of being grateful for everything as I pray. Sure, I may ask for help or blessings toward a goal of mine, but I always follow it up with acknowledging everything that is going wonderfully in my life.
I'm blessed to have my two children, my wife, my business, the clients with whom I work...
I'm blessed to have a moment of your time where we can mentally commune and share our experiences on turning criticism into fuel.
So remember: You Are Awesome! *highfive*