You know the feeling: You’ve thoroughly prepped for a meeting or event—skipping meals, working late, belaboring every detail—because failure is not an option. But every now and then, that’s exactly what happens—you fail.
Hindsight is 20/20, but that doesn’t help lessen the sting when criticism leaves you feeling like a punching bag. Even if the deck was clearly stacked against you, yours is still the throat to choke.
Good leaders know that how they respond to criticism, no matter how poorly delivered, is one of the most important tests of their ability to communicate effectively.
That’s why you need to brace yourself, let your opponent’s words hit like a ton of bricks and deliver the strongest “I’ll do better next time” message you can muster.
Trouble is, once the dust settles, you’re often left reeling. When that happens, these communication practices can prevent negativity from taking root:
- Resist the mea culpa route. Too much conversation about your perceived slip-up not only affects the perception others have of you—it affects the perception you have of yourself.
- Dismiss character attacks. Take to heart every piece of feedback that can improve your performance. But words that disparage your character or self-worth should be quickly forgotten.
- Focus on the big picture. Don’t let a mistake define you. Nobody is perfect and we often learn the most when we don’t succeed. And it’s okay to grieve, just be sure to find a trustworthy ear to bend.
Before you act . . .
To keep your personal defenses in fighting shape, develop a reserve of fact-based affirmations, keep a running list of your successes, read testimonials others have written on your behalf and, as a reality check, periodically ask peers for feedback.