2 Ways to Know if Criticism Is Legitimate

Well, I think we can all agree that it’s not fun to be criticized. Yet we need it, at times. Without it, there’s no growth. Sometimes we get so surprised by a negative reaction; we question whether the critical comments are actually valid. I found this germane advice from Cathie Black, president of Hearst Magazines, in her book, Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life). She suggests asking yourself the following two questions when you have doubts about negative comments you hear:

1. Could I trust that he was acting in good faith and not on some ulterior motive just to bring me down a notch? In other words, why is this person making this comment? Is there a benefit for this person in this message?

2. Did he have some knowledge of this particular situation that I didn’t? Is is possible that this person knows something that I don’t?

If you can trust the person in good faith, and it’s highly possible that s/he has access to information that you don’t, then embrace the criticism and move on. You may doubt the validity of the comments if you question the motives involved, but be aware that there still may be a kernel of help in those comments.

Fear not the criticism. If the shoe doesn’t fit at all, don’t wear it. There may be tremendous opportunity for learning in the situation.


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