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The Champion Forum Podcast

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TCFP209: Let's Get Critical

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! If you’re a leader who hates to lose more than you like to win, you might have a hard time accepting criticism. The good news is that criticism is a gift, and when you change your perspective, you can respond in a way that encourages people to be open and honest with you. In this episode, we’ll discuss the benefits of criticism and how you can get better at embracing criticism.

Criticism brings learning opportunities

It’s very easy to overlook your mistakes until someone points them out. Most people react to criticism by looking for someone else to blame. This mindset prevents us from actually learning. If you want to grow, you must change your mindset and consider criticism a learning opportunity. Not all criticism or feedback is true, but it is all a gift.

How To Embrace Criticism

1. Pause before responding

Before you react, stop and give your brain a couple of seconds to process the situation. Those brief moments will help eliminate unwanted facial expressions and help you think rationally and objectively. Having composure as a leader and not making knee-jerk reactions will help you build a brand of self-confidence and a high threshold for stress.

2. Avoid getting defensive

A common initial reaction to criticism is to get offended and argue. Giving negative feedback is as challenging and nerve-racking as receiving it. If you respond by getting defensive, the person will not be as open with you in the future. As a leader, you must foster an environment of feedback, even if this means that you have to filter out the complainers every once in a while.

3. Don’t take it personally

Criticism is not about you as a person. It is only someone’s observation about one of your decisions or opinions. The person giving you the complaint may not be correct. Either way, you need the feedback. Receiving feedback is not an indication that you’re a bad leader but merely an opportunity for you to grow.

4. Listen to understand

Now that you’ve avoided reacting negatively, are thinking rationally, and remember that this is beneficial for you, it’s time to engage in a productive conversation. Listen to the person without interrupting, and try to understand their perspective. When they finish talking, mirror back what you heard. Mirroring will make the person feel comfortable to continue being honest with you. The more information you get, the more effective you will be in addressing it. You can also thank them for sharing. Expressing appreciation doesn’t mean you agree with them, but it does show you acknowledge them.

5. Reflect and ask questions

Now it’s time to process the feedback and share your perspective. If you genuinely disagree with the constructive criticism, it’s ok to say that. Focus on understanding the issue and providing perspective where needed.

Application Activities:

  1. Sometimes, we have a hard time receiving criticism because we also have difficulty being critical. Remember, criticism is not a bad thing. It can be a part of growth. Examine your attitudes toward criticism or feedback. Do you shy away from giving constructive criticism? Do you feel more comfortable giving it to a boss, peer, or subordinate? Come up with some feedback you can give to someone in each of those three categories and commit to giving it this week.

  2. If you have difficulty accepting criticism, try taking on a new hobby. As you learn, focus on how you respond when you are corrected and the feelings that you have. Remind yourself to be open to criticism and to see it as a gift! As you practice, receiving criticism will become more and more natural for you.

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