“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.” — Dale Carnegie
You can use criticism to change your game, achieve your dreams, and bring out your best. Criticism is a blessing in disguise if you know how to use it effectively.
Yeah, sometimes the disguise can be pretty bad, but take a look beyond the surface or the sting.
Criticism is an Opportunity to Improve
In my experience, the key is how you look at criticism. To be effective, you need to look at criticism as an opportunity to improve. This takes out the emotional reaction and helps you get curious and see what you might otherwise miss.
You also need to look at both the critic and the criticism. For example, does the critic have your best interest in mind? Does the critic know what they are talking about? This helps immediately put the criticism in perspective.
Make Feedback Useful and Actionable
When you look at the criticism, you need to determine if it’s relevant or accurate. It’s not a matter of defending. Instead, make feedback useful and actionable.
I find that looking for the actionable insight is the most effective way I can make criticism a worthwhile venture.
In just about any worthwhile adventure, criticism is part of the journey. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. If you have a process for dealing with feedback, and if you embrace it, rather than fear it, you can grow with your challenges.
In the book, Mentored by a Millionaire: Master Strategies of Super Achievers, Steven K. Scott shares a three-step skill for dealing with criticism, as well as a metaphor for thinking about criticism.
He suggests thinking of criticism like a bucket of water, sand, and gold, where the gold is hidden in the sand at the bottom.
A Three-Step Skill to Turn Criticism into Your Powerful Ally
Scott suggests a three-part process for responding to criticism in a more effective way:
- Step 1. Consider the source of the criticism. Scott suggests three questions to help you evaluate the source of the criticism: 1) How qualified is the critic? 2) What is the basis of the criticism?, and 3) What is the critic’s motive for the criticism?
- Step 2. Consider the accuracy of the criticism. Scott says that with criticisms you’ll find that some are extremely accurate, some are partially accurate, and many are totally inaccurate.
- Step 3. Take responsibility for your response to the criticism and mine it for gold. Scott suggests responding effectively to the criticism instead of just reacting. To do so, he suggests writing down the stinging criticisms and look for the gold nuggets that can help you improve.
A Bucket of Water, a Few Inches of Sand, and a Little Bit of Gold
Every bucket of criticism is full of water, has a bit of sand, and if you’re lucky, some gold on the bottom.
“Criticism is like somebody grabbing a bucket of that water and throwing it on you. A bucket of criticism is full of water, has a few inches of sand, and nearly always has a little bit of gold buried somewhere in the sand. A whole bucket of criticism might have a great big gold nuggets, or it may only have one tiny little flake of gold — one that requires a lot of searching to find.”
The Gold is Hidden in the Sand
Ignore the water, deal with the sand, but hunt for the gold.
“When a bucket of criticism is thrown at us, the first thing that hits our face is the water. It’s cold, and it’s shocking, but it’s really quite harmless.
All we have to do is grab a towel and dry off. Some of the sand in the bottom of the bucket also hits us in the face, and a few grains get into our eyes.
That’s a little more painful and irritating and needs to be removed from our eyes, not only to end the pain and irritation but so we can see more clearly. And finally there’s the gold. It’s hidden in the couple inches of sand left in the bottom of the bucket.”
The Gold is the Criticisms that Makes Us Wiser
The gold is the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts. You can use the feedback to empower you and grow wiser in the process.
“The gold is the truth of the criticism that can make us wiser and help us adjust our behavior, our attitudes, or our words for the better.
There may only be a flake of truth that really needs to be searched for, or there may be a giant gold nugget of truth that will be of immeasurable value.
This is what Churchill, Solomon, and Lillian Gish were talking about. They realized that with criticism, there’s often a measure of truth that can be of great benefit to us and to those we relate to.”
With the process on your side and a metaphor at your back, test drive your ability to respond to criticism and welcome the next chance that comes along to take your game to a new level.
Photo by peasap.