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Handle It – Dealing with Criticism and Negative Feedback (Part 9)

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(…continued from last week)

Another process here in managing criticism is, don’t try to change their mind. You can’t control what other people are thinking. They have a right to their opinions even if they are mistaken.

You can try and force them to change to but it’s probably not going to work, they have a right to think what they are thinking, and they’re probably going to stick with their guns. Don’t keep justifying, explaining and arguing endlessly. They’re probably not going to agree. They may never agree. They don’t have to. And you don’t need them to. Just deal with the situation honestly for understanding with clarity, getting the information and move on.

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One last thing I want to throw out here as far as dealing with criticism is, thank the critic. Everybody needs feedback. You do, I do, everyone does – even sometimes feedback we don’t like.

Look at it from this perspective. When someone gives you a gift, or gives you something you need, it’s appropriate to thank them. It’s good manners and polite.

Consider thanking them even if you didn’t ask for the feedback, even if it isn’t particularly nice. Even if you have no intention of acting according to their advice. Thank them. And when you thank them do it with sincerity.

Thanking them quite often will stop them dead in their tracks! The thanking also reminds us that feedback doesn’t hurt us. After all, it’s just words. Don’t get caught up in their drama. If someone says to you, “You screwed up when you did _______!” You could reply, “Thank you for saying something. I appreciate you bringing it up. I don’t’ know if I actually thought about it that way. I appreciate you bringing it to my attention. Tell me more.”

When you thank the critic it does two things. 1) It disarms them, and 2) it actually lets us know that you heard them and are tracking with them. So thank the critic. It’s a great showstopper.

Other Alternatives

Additional ways to de-escalate the negativity is find common goals or common grounds with this person. What are some of the things they are saying that are true? What are some of the ways that we align? What are some of the things that we can do that can make a difference?

Second, stay flexible with your style of managing conflict. You can Compete, Collaborate, Compromise, Accommodate, or Avoid during a disagreement. There’s not ever just one way to deal with something. Don’t get caught up in the drama. Move beyond it.

Third, generate options. Think about things you can do that might benefit both of you in this situation to move forward.

Next, set a plan of action. Sometimes creating a flowchart of “I’ll do this, you do that, they can do this, we’ll move forward” helps. When we get them as a collaborator to form a plan of action as to what can be done so this won’t happen again or to move beyond the situation, we feel like we all are contributing. It brings us all on the same side of the table instead of polarized.

Get agreements about what could happen in the future. Figure out how you can avoid having this happen down the road.

And sometimes, when all else fails, if things are really escalating and you know you have to deal with it and there is some truth inside of it you may need to say “Let’s take a time out. I am not very happy and I am upset about what’s going on and I can see you are too. Why don’t we take a break and let’s get together at say two o’clock and talk about this further.”

Sometimes it’s appropriate to walk away and come back at a time when everyone is a little more chilled. That way you can manage it more effectively.

Criticism and negativity are normal. They are part of everyday life. They are going to be part of your life experience. You cannot avoid them unless you live in isolation away from everyone else in the world. It’s going to happen. None of us like it, but it’s reality.

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale once said “A positive thinker does not refuse to recognize the negative, he refuses to dwell on it. Positive thinking is a form of thought which habitually looks for the best results from the worst conditions!”

W. Clement Stone was known for saying “There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. That little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.”

Each of us has to daily decide how we are going to deal with those people we encounter. You will have conflicts with your children, with your spouse, with your friends, with neighbors, with bosses, with employees, with collaborators, with traffic. You will have conflict. It’s inevitable. But how you deal with those things that come at you is truly your choice.

As Mr. Stone said, “The little difference is attitude, the big difference is whether it is positive or negative.”

Choose to go positive. Practice using these skills you have just learned. Step in to more personal control.

You can be, you can do, you can achieve whatever you desire. This includes ever better management of conflicts you encounter. But you have to step-up.



This concludes “Handle It – Dealing with Criticism and Negative Feedback”. Please stay tuned next week for an all new program that can improve your relationships, your success, and your life for good!

Make today a great day!


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