When it comes to criticism, everyone yearns to develop thick skin.
The truth is that no one is completely immune to negative opinions hurled their way. Some people are just better at blocking it out or ignoring the assessment and doing whatever the hell they planned to do in the first place.
Until you develop the ability to allow negativity – or even constructive comments that undermine your plans – bounce off your chest like bullets do Superman (or Jason Witten), there are ways to cope with criticism without losing your shit.
The Harvard Business Review offered several different suggestions for keeping criticism from getting into your psyche. Here are the three most important takeaways from the piece to keep in mind the next time a coworker shoots down your brilliant idea or a spouse voices an argument to your carefully laid plans.
1. Be prepared; don’t freeze. Criticism is inevitable, especially if we invite diverse perspectives and boldly lay out a big vision. Unfortunately, our response to the disapproval of others may not be entirely within our control. Feeling “attacked” may trigger an involuntary fight-flight-or-freeze response in the amygdala. We may capitulate, cry, or lash out — actions we’ll probably regret later.
If you’re feeling attacked, take a deep breath, or remove yourself from the situation to resist the urge to blow your stack or punch a person in the lips.
HBR suggests saying something like “This is a new perspective. I appreciate your willingness to share a different point of view. I’d like to give this genuine consideration and get back to you.”
Then feel free to retreat to your office and punch some inanimate objects.
2. Apply the criticism to your role, not yourself. We often mistake our role for ourselves. We take things personally that are not personal at all; they are a condition of the job we’re in.
In other words, don’t take comments personally.
Jim from sales might like you but he doesn’t like your idea. He just isn’t the best at explaining why.
3. Take care of yourself; don’t try to push through. If your colleagues’ comments are particularly painful, it might take a psychological and physiological toll. You may find it hard to sleep or eat well. During these times, carve out more time for yourself. Identify two to three small rituals or practices that help renew your energy.
Don’t let things fester. Don’t keep the feelings bottled up. Either bring the issues out in the open, work through the problem with a killer workout, talk to a therapist because it’s good for your career or simply get the hell over it.
In the end, it’s important to remember not everyone will like your ideas, opinions or the way you handle situations. That’s just a part of life.
You can’t please everyone and you’ll kill yourself – and all of the objects in your office – in the process.
[via Harvard Business Review]