“There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”~Aristotle
A client was telling me today about a difficulty she was having with a leader at her company. “He always comes in looking for what’s wrong,” she said, “I hate that.”
“Why?” I asked her.
“I feel like it’s not okay for him to catch what’s wrong. I feel like I have to fix everything he might find before he finds it, so that he doesn’t find something wrong.”
Now, my client and I talked for a while about her tendency to need things to be perfect and to catch mistakes before others do, and of her desire and need to let that tendency go. But apparently Aristotle had something more to share for our conversation, something that would have been at least as helpful.
Because the only true way to avoid criticism is to do nothing that can be criticized. As Aristotle says, to “do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” Because any time we put ourselves out there, we risk criticism. Any time we do, say, or be anything, there is a chance that someone else will not like it.
Which most likely means that the only way to actually move forward is to lose our fear of criticism – or to at least learn how to accept criticism. To perhaps invite it as an opportunity to learn and grow. To perhaps respond with curiosity to our criticizer – to ask for reasons and examples and additional ideas, so that what we do, what we say, and who we are can be better.
Perhaps we can reframe criticism and allow it to support us in our leadership and our leadership growth.
How have you learned from criticism?
Please leave a comment.
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For support in losing fear of – and perhaps even inviting – criticism, contact Lisa at email@example.com.
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I’ve learned from criticism that it’s a learning experience about myself. It opens new perspectives about risks involved, bad habits to be aware of, and it draws self-awareness about things I’ve been doing that I don’t notice but others do. However, there is a difference between criticism and blaming someone. There could be a problem that needs to be resolved. It’s good to focus on how to makes things work rather than blaming and shaming. It’s also great to take criticism with a grain of salt. A person could be in a reactive state. That’s my two cents.
Thank you for your thoughts. We agree with your points – it’s a chance to learn, there’s a huge difference between criticism and blame, and it all must be taken in and considered – and then you get to decide what, if anything, you’ll do about it. Thank you for your contributions to this necessary dialogue.
Thank you for this new perspective on looking at the critique we receive at work or in life. I am still learning how to accept criticism. I still get in my feelings way too much when receiving it. Still working through this. I look forward to the day when I will let go of my fear of criticism completely and just be the best I can be, just do the best I can do. I have to say that I do believe supervisors, mentors, friends even can do a better job with their delivery of criticism. This is equally important.
Thank you for your comment, Nzingha. Absolutely agree that learning how to deliver a critique is just as (if not more) important than learning to accept it.