Why Not Taking Criticism Personally is the Key to Success

You’ve got the job. And now you’ve even got a raise. Isn’t this the epitome of career success? Yeah, sure. So then why are you just devastated any time your boss gives you “feedback”?

We all need more feedback and praise at work but Millennials especially value the recognition that comes from high achievement and want someone to show them exactly what to do to become successful.

Many of my 20-something clients struggle to understand whether someone (whether it’s their boss, client, or co-worker) is treating them with a lack of respect or just being downright rude by offering feedback. Critiques cause many Millennials to instantly go into problem-solving mode, trying to figure out how to make that person like them – or how to make their boss ‘happy’.

20-somethings take things personally, partially because of the life stage they’re in and partially because they grew up in a world of constant feedback from social media and other technologically driven social structures. (The rejection felt when someone swiped left on their profile became an overwhelming need-to-fix-it addiction for many Tinder users.)

So, because of this environment, it can be hard for 20-somethings to separate what someone says to them and the motivation behind what was said.

Not everything is about you – sometimes people react negatively because they’re having a bad day. Or because their boss is yelling at them. Or because they’re stressed about an upcoming deadline.

So, I ask my clients (and I’m asking you now) to ask themselves, “What else could be true?”

It’s an exercise that helps my clients (and hopefully you too!) to see the situation without the emotion involved in feeling rejected. Perhaps the person giving the ‘feedback’ doesn’t intend it negatively. Perhaps the person intends it to be helpful – or inspiring.

This exercise also helps develop your empathy and compassion muscles. By seeing the situation from that person’s point of view, you’re more able to understand them moving forward. This will help you create a rapport that may open you up to a stronger team experience.

So the next time you’re feeling the devastation of a negative reaction to your work or your presentation or even who you are – ask, “What else could be true?” You may find an answer that has nothing to do with you.

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