This week, I spoke to the leaders in my circle about Criticism.
Author and motivator Tim Sanders says criticism is like a nut. You eat the meat and spit out the shell.
Each of us will deal with criticism. It’s been said that, “if you’re not being criticized, you’re probably not doing much” (Donald Rumsfeld). Whether you’re in the spotlight or working behind the scenes, you will face critics.
Sometimes the criticism is justified. There are times when we deserve correction or advice. Other times, people can simply be petty, mean, or simply wrong about us. That’s why we have to take the good, and throw out the bad.
Legendary coach John Wooden said, “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” It’s important that we not get sidetracked from our mission in life by either praise or by criticism. We’ve got to use it to make ourselves better, and move forward.
There are two key elements to dealing with criticism. The first is to learn how to receive it. The second piece is learning to give it.
For some, criticizing others comes easy. This is dangerous, because we may need to learn when to keep our opinions to ourselves. We should only give criticism when it is helpful. Before you or I open our mouth to criticize, we need to stop an think about whether it’s constructive or destructive. If it doesn’t serve any positive purpose, let’s keep our mouths shut.
For others, it’s important to learn to speak up when something needs to be said. Some people see problems that others may overlook, but fail to speak up. At best, this can rob others of encouragement or correction that they need. At worst, it harms others. When engineers see a critical design flaw in a product, they must speak up, so that defective products don’t endanger the public. When we fail to correct, we allow problems to continue and grow.
To on the giving side, it’s important to learn how to give criticism, as well as when or when not to give it.