Sunday, February 17, 2008
Criticism. It hurts. But, particularly if you're going to put yourself out there in a leadership position, it's going to happen.

The time that I remember my dad getting most furious with me was when I was being a fifth grade dork and criticizing a school art project that he was helping my sister and her friend with. Really, I was trying to be funny but he was in no mood. I won't go into details but the resulting scene was pretty ugly. I am sure that it affects me still today in how I approach others and also in my fear of conflict. All in all, I think that some of the results of that in me are good. But maybe a little off the deep end in some areas.

Anyway, that's a little off track from where I was going with this.

How do you deal with it when you perceive others are being critical of you? Do you get all out of sorts and let them ruin your day? I am not sure that is such a good idea. Here are my ideas for how to deal with critics.

1) Make sure that you heard what you thought you heard. Generally, I have found that most people are kind. They do not really intend to hurt others. I so often see others getting all upset over something someone else said but, in reality, what the other person said wasn't what they thought, perhaps because of a complete misunderstanding, an exaggeration by someone else, or a contextual difference.

2) Sometimes you can chalk things up to the other person just having a bad day. Don't allow anyone to let their bad day make your day bad.

3) Don't shoot the messenger. Sometimes, in the criticism you receive, there are some nuggets which can allow you to grow. Don't immediately get all defensive and refuse to hear what they are really saying. I know I can easily make this mistake. Often, if I really step back and be introspective, though, I can find some truth and some growth points in what they have said.

4) Remember that your value as a human being comes from the love that God has for you. He is who gives you worth and provides you with opportunity for a meaningful life.

In other words, grow if you can from criticism, extend grace to the other person when ultimately that is what is necessary, and realize that none of this affects your worth or your potential.

And, I almost want to say "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." Inherent to any position of leadership is that you will have critics. You need to find healthy ways to deal with that and, depending upon where you are, doing so could require you to step back a bit for a season or so or self analysis.

P.S. If you have read this, please do not confuse criticism with emotional abuse. There is a difference and your reaction to emotional abuse must be far more pro-active than that to simple criticism.

  posted at 7:06 AM  


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