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Dealing with criticism the right way

An article in The Star by Dr Goh Chee Leong (Psychology at Work) called Why Evaluations of Staff  can be a Complete Waste of Time (6 Nov), the following really rings true:

Some bosses are scared of their staff. They are scared that if they raise criticisms their staff will challenge their positions, that it may sour their working relationships and in the worst-case scenario, may even lead to the staff leaving.I know situations like this, where staff threaten to leave whenever someone critiques their work. This reflects weakness on the part of the boss who clearly lacks the courage to confront flaws in members of the team, but personally I think it is the staff’s loss in the end. 

When you create a situation where no one dares give you feedback, you lose, not them. You are the one who has deprived yourself of valuable fuel for growth. You are the one who has voluntarily stunted yourself.

While the rest of the competitive world is out there hungrily seeking feedback and devouring any criticism that can help them get ahead in the world, they are still some staff who happily embrace their mediocrity, comfortably sitting where they are and proud of the fact that no one can move them.

~ Dr Goh Chee Leong, vice-president of HELP University College and a psychologist

Being willing to accept constructive feedback is important if we want to get ahead in life. It is often easier for another person to observe and identify our weaknesses and flaws than our ownselves.

We lose the battle when our reflex is to react negatively whenever someone says something negative about us. Before anything, if we get angry, keep justifying ourselves and be all self righteous about what others say, we effectively shut down the path towards growth.

I have known of a few people who cannot accept constructive feedback- and they tend to blame the world and external circumstances from blocking them to get ahead in life. They tend to blame corrupted politicans, their boss, the management, the Budget, other races, the economy downturn and even the weather for ruining their lives.  When you try to tell them gently that it was perhaps their rude behaviour that blew their chances of a promotion, you’ll probably find yourself ignored because the chap gets angry with you.

It’s sad but when we behave that way, we’ll scare away a lot of people. Other people have enough problems going on in their lives to have to tiptoe around us and watch what they say- they’ll rather just avoid us and not talk too much in order not to step on our toes. And we wonder why we do not seemed to have many friends or sense that other people do not like to be around us. 

For me, I will tend to stay away from people who complains a lot and like to blame external circumstances (that sometimes they are in no power to change) for all the problems in their lives. The reason is because it drains my energy to be around them. I would rather spend that time alone.

That’s why in the end, when we tend to react negatively and blame others, we are denying self accountability. When we refuse to accept responsibility or have the courage to look within, we cannot even begin to change. It is not necessary for us to believe 100% what others say- for instance, if someone says that we are a dog, we have to look behind and check if we have tails. If we don’t, well, it means that that person is just wrong and we need not have to take in (that is just a simile).

We need to look beyond another person’s tone of voice- and decipher the real message behind the words- is the criticism constructive and beneficial? What can I learn from that? And then, we’ll be the real winner and we can find a lot of inner growth.

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