How do you handle criticism? If you were called into your boss’s office for an unscheduled meeting or a job performance review, would you get nervous and start to sweat? Would your knees start knocking? Some might think it's easier to hear criticism in a job performance review because the comments are based on your work performance only. But, some people could still take it personally. So, how would you handle criticism if the comments were personal?
I once worked for an employer who occasionally criticized me using a blend of inappropriate comments about my personal and professional lives. My boss said things that were so inappropriate I was dumbfounded. But, since it was a small business, and this person was the owner, and I was their manager, I couldn’t report their behavior to anyone.
Instead, I returned to my desk in complete shell shock. At first, I took their criticism to heart because I had derived all my self-worth from my work. Yet, I also believed I was doing a good job. You see, to add insult to injury I was wearing three "hats" at that job. But, instead of ruffling feathers, I took the high road and focused on doing my best instead.
But, over time, I concluded I couldn't improve my performance if I was doing the job of three people. Even though I had voiced my concerns about struggling to meet my employer’s expectations, I eventually realized my boss just didn’t want to compensate me. If they couldn't recognize the work I was already doing, then they never would. They invested more time coming up with reasons to delay my raise and their promises for advancement instead of my value.
In the end, I knew no one else would attempt to do the job I had done for them for so long. In fact, I found out my position was split up among three staff members after I left the business.
Isn’t it awkward and uncomfortable to look at someone after they've criticized you? I would often think about that horrible experience. I would think about how hard I worked and how poorly I was treated. Since that experience, someone taught me a secret to handling inappropriate criticism. They told me that even when someone said the worst things to you, you should change the energy in the air by responding with a compliment.
How do you look someone in the eyes after they’ve just said some of the worst things to you? By giving your critic a compliment, you would take them by such surprise that it will feel like the rug was just pulled out from underneath them. In turn, this tactic would help you feel more in control of the situation. You would feel empowered and better about yourself. Lastly, you'd feel proud of yourself for handling a negative situation in a positive way.
Difficult situations like this one will test you. Situations like these especially present the best opportunities to practice aloha.
So, the next time someone says something unpleasant to you, respond with kindness and a smile. Make sure what you’re saying is true, so that you can say it with conviction. Maybe then, your critic will think twice before saying something unprofessional, inappropriate, mean, or unnecessary again.
I’ve used this secret weapon against bullies ever since. And, every time, I leave the room with my head held high because I know my truth. I know my value and what I have to offer the world. The world is filled with unkind people, but I don’t have to be one of them and neither do you.
It’s OK for your work to be criticized. Your employer should be able to give constructive feedback about your work without hurting your feelings. Therefore, it’s not surprising to hear a critical comment or two. But, rude and unprofessional comments about your family or personal life would be shocking, inappropriate, and disappointing if it came from someone you respected, like your employer.
Therefore, if an employer should cross the line, it’s OK to stand up for yourself. But, to make a real difference in your outcome while maintaining your dignity, lead with kindness. Never stoop to anyone else's level of demeaning rhetoric no matter how much they’ve hurt your feelings.
When the world doesn’t give you the credit you believe you deserve, my Pineapple, give it to yourself. Not everyone has signed up to be your cheerleader. So, you must learn to cheer for yourself, my Pineapple. You must always see your worth even when others don't.
Live, Love, and Lead with Aloha.