It made me stop when I heard it. It wasn’t even directed at me but it still made my eyebrows furrow. No one ever wants to hear the words, “you’re wrong.” Today it was a student pulling on my mother’s sleeve.
“Teacher, you are wrong,” said this tiny twelve-year-old girl. She then proceeded to tell my mother, her teacher, how she had assigned the wrong chapter and how she had found all of the right chapters. I waited anxiously for my mother’s response.
“You are so right! I did say the wrong chapter!” my mother said. Then she thanked the little girl for pointing out her mistake and asked if she could use her paper with the correct page numbers for the rest of her classes. That student beamed.
I sat back in my chair amazed and remembered a powerful lesson: no one likes criticism. Whether it is as direct as when a child tells you or subtly from your peers, criticism stings and makes us feel vulnerable. However, the way we handle criticism can also largely determine a lot of our success. Criticism and learning how to deal with feedback can be one of the most effective tools in shaping your career, character, and personal success. Here is why:
1. Criticism lets you see another viewpoint.
Criticism comes from varying viewpoints. If we all thought the same we would have no room to criticize because we would all do things the same way. Learn to view criticism as a way to take a step back and to look at your problem from a fresh view. Yes, you might have to brush away your initial tears at the suggestion but it can provide new solutions that you didn’t think of on your own.
2. Criticism gives you a reality check.
I once was told that I was bossy and too intense. Hurtful? Yes! True? …yep, sure was! Knowing that was something about myself others were linking to my personality I worked on changing that. Now before you think I have gone crazy I want to point out that, yes, I know criticism is usually rude, hurtful, and can sting at the least. When we take a step back from the emotion of it all, we can more clearly see the message our peers/boss/family/friends need us to hear. From there the ball is in your court. You can either accept what they said as valid or let it slide off your back like water on a duck. Either way, when you receive criticism (in your professional or personal life) it is a good time to take a step back and see if their point would improve your life if followed. It also helps if you choose to believe that most criticism comes from a genuine place in others.
3. Criticism makes you stronger.
I hate criticism. I really do (you might think otherwise after this blog post but still…). But one of the greatest advantages that comes from criticism is that it forces you to practice finding your inner strength. It takes a strong person to admit that you are wrong, or to accept someone’s idea over your own. Just like most growing experiences in our life, there is stretching and discomfort involved. Practicing the art of reviewing and acting upon criticism is vital to improving your mental strength and propelling your forward to your own success.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Winston Churchill. He said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” That same principle can be applied to criticism. You have people criticizing you? Good. That means you’ve gone for, work for, achieved something worthwhile. People don’t take the time to criticize if they don’t believe you aren’t going to need it for your future success. Keep those tips in mind, and remember to look at criticism through the eyes of the high-achiever you are.