Subjective judgments of what we perceive to be objective work can be incredibly frustrating. Our initial impulse is to disregard negative opinions based on character, context, and emotional response. We seek to nullify less than positive judgments because they may be insulting. They may sting. They may mean—more work.
And while more work is never fun, it can and often is vital to the very foundation of business. It pays to hear every opinion and take a step back while you do so. Attempt to disconnect yourself from the vastly personal connection you have with your business, and rationally analyze whether said criticism can be helpful. Many times, even criticism that hurts at first actually helps in the long run. Yes, the truth is hard to swallow. Does that mean we shouldn’t even chew it over, analyze it, absorb its nutrients? Absolutely not.
Instead of merely turning off, turn biting criticism to your advantage by managing it appropriately. In my own experience, the following key pieces of advice have proven tremendously helpful:
Maintain an external locus of control.
The world, sadly enough, is not in our control. We cannot predict the future. We cannot bend time backwards—but we can deal with problems as they arise. We can remember it is up to us to respond appropriately.
“Life is what happens when you are busy making plans,” so “plan for the worst and hope for the best.” The rest is out of your hands.
Be the best YOU can be.
When the world rears its ugly head and prospective solutions fall through, how do you know what you’re doing is enough? While there may be objective evaluations of productivity, the ultimate judgment is your own, subjective, perception of yourself. Did you do all you can do?
The only true measure of a job well-done is by you. You are the only one who knew what information was available when and what resources were accessible when problems emerged. If you truly feel you did the best you could with what you had, then that’s all there is to it.
It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and five minutes to destroy it.
Maintaining a professional reputation is 24-hours/day, 365-day/year job. With your reputation on the line with every job completed and every service provided, the best way to maintain it is by not making mistakes in the first place. Of course, this is impossible. We as human beings are condemned to err.
Yet, it is a good guideline. The best way to secure our professional reputation is by being cognizant of it. Be aware. Take care with what you say, how you act, and how you dress at all times. One way to put this in perspective: don’t ever do something you wouldn’t want to see in the newspaper (or on the internet) the next day.
All criticism, in reality, is constructive and offers an opportunity to better ourselves. Even when wrong, it gives us a chance to step back and rationally address an emotional response. Managing criticism is hard, but that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant.