Dealing With Your Reaction To Criticism – Response to A Reader
I recently got an interesting response from a subscriber to my Two Minute Tune Up on dealing with criticism. (The Two Minute Tune Ups are part of a free 14 lesson mini seminar in persuasion, one email every two weeks start to finish, that you can subscribe to at LearnToPersuade.com)
The Tune Up was about the option of thanking someone who is critical of you, which I offered as an alternative to defending or explaining yourself.
Hey Dr. Rick, i really like this one. It’s so simple (but difficult sometimes), and really effective. Didn’t Obama use basically this technique in his debates with Mccain? Or rather, he just kept silent after the criticism, letting it shine for all to see how immature and petty it was, then focused on speaking his own vision and beliefs about the topic.
Only one problem: I find when I use the ‘thank you’ technique for criticism, I actually feel resentful, and it comes across sarcastic. Working on that.
If you’re saying one thing and feeling another, the experience has to be one of cognitive dissonance, which is an uncomfortable and generally unproductive place from which to engage with others. Obviously lining up your internal state to match your words has to be part of this advice for it to be any good. And lining yourself up is going to give you the personal power of congruence.
The problem here is responding in the heat of the moment (when just remembering you have a choice might be the best you could hope to come up with) without being internally prepared with a cooling internal response at a moment’s notice. You’ve got to change what you do with what you hear before you can change what you say into something that sounds AND feels like genuine gratitude. That means giving yourself an attitude adjustment, even if you have to do it on the fly, in real time, with the critical person standing right in front of you leveling the negative charge. I know of a few ways to do this, and in this post, I’m going to tell you about one of my favorites:
CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS!
Imagine, if you will, that someone is criticizing you right now. What do you say to yourself? How do you talk to yourself? If your reaction is to put them down, or put yourself down, I’d advise you to put that reaction down, because all it serves to do is inflame you and cut you off from your internal resources.
Instead, be prepared by finding something productive to say to yourself right now, while you have the luxury of thinking about it. Something that lifts you up, or explains the other person away, or reframes the meaning of what the other person is doing so that it actually feels kinda good that they’re doing it
Something like, “Well, if they didn’t care about me, they’d probably not be talking to me,” or “It’s not always about me,” or “If this was about them, what would they be revealing to me?” or “Cool, an opportunity to practice my communication skills!”
Feedback? Agree with this? Tried this? Got some criticism for me? I’m eager to try out my own advice. So your comments are, as always, amost welcome. I’ll be back next week with another post.