Being able to withstand criticism

Being able to withstand criticism seems to me to be a most valuable skill to foster. And I don’t mean well-phrased 360-degree feedback or nicely framed coaching goals.

I mean cack-handed comments from the office jerk. Or a remark from a colleague having a bad day. Or just someone wanting to vent at another person for no good reason.

Let me be clear, I’m not referring to staying in toxic workplaces where off behaviour is commonplace and detrimental to your self-esteem.

But I am talking about being able to withstand emotionally triggering and hurtful comments from time to time.

Being able to calmly receive the critical comment or deprecating behaviour without immediately becoming defensive, having enough self-confidence to examine it in your own time, and then ultimately deciding whether it is entirely baseless or does actually warrant further thought.

Being able to withstand criticism seems to me to be a most valuable skill to foster because the truth is we can’t actually control how other people act, but our own conduct, including personal reactions, counts for a lot in the workplace.

Whilst I’m 100% entitled to express my communication preferences to workmates and team members, they are only human and equally under no obligation to comply. Insisting on how others act every minute of the day is a level of control I cannot exert. Nor wish to quite honestly.

Sometimes other people think, speak, act and behave in ways we don’t like. Sometimes it’s triggering and emotionally hurtful. Sometimes it’s accidental, sometimes it’s deliberate. Sometimes the other person is completely unaware of how they come across.

Doesn’t it make sense to accept this truth and work hard to become as resilient as possible, putting to good use any kind of triggering experience that does slip through as a torch shining within us to point out areas of personal growth still requiring a little help?

Getting better at accepting criticism and comments is something I plan to deliberately work on.

Frank Ray Consulting. Software requirements for agile development teams, particularly distributed, remote and offshore development teams working in financial services.

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