Wednesday, June 4, 2014

How Do You Respond To Criticism?

"If you pay attention when you are corrected, you are wise. If you refuse to learn, you are hurting yourself. If you accept correction, you will become wiser. Reverence for the Lord is an education in itself. You must be humble before you can ever receive honours.
No one is perfect, therefore at some point in all of our lives, we will face criticism. We will be corrected. We will be subject to someone judging our work, our lives, or our actions. Granted, that is not always comfortable and it is not always received well. Essentially, no one likes criticism, but encountering some is inevitable. What do you do in that moment? How do you handle that situation? We need to learn how to respond in a Godly way, that best represents our ability to learn and grow. Although we might be tempted to become defensive or angry, we must remain calm and listen. The words may hurt, but great benefits come to those who carefully consider what is said.
Have you ever heard the phrase, "Practice makes perfect." Teachers, coaches, mentors, parents, friends, leaders, bosses... they are all there to get our best performance. That performance may be on a job site, or in a musical production, or on a test. No one does something perfectly the first time, and most people need multiple times in practice to be of any skilled level in performance. If we refuse to accept advice, correction, or reproof, we'll limit our potential for Christlike-character development and spiritual growth. Some of life's best lessons come through difficult experiences. If God allowed the situation, you can be sure that He wants to use it in transforming you into His image. Whether the criticism is valid or not, whether it's delivered with kindness or harshness, your goal should always be to respond in a way that glorifies the Lord. Remember that you are responsible only for how you handle yourself, not for how the other person is acting.
Here is what I have learned over a lifetime of public service, government work, ministry, and being someone that builds things for people, I have been given the opportunity to hear many people's gripes and complaints about a process, a software, a policy, or a change to workflow. It can be disheartening when a criticism comes your way, but here are some tried and true tips to get through it with some dignity, some grace, and able to hold you head high and maintain respect for your merit: Be quiet and listen until the other person has finished. Don't interrupt or immediately try to make excuses or deny the criticism. 9 times out of 10, even if you disagree, you must realize that perception is reality to the person talking to you. Their life may seem like it is ending because a button doesn't work, and they don't have access to the bigger picture of other things on your plate. And sometimes, it is a legitimate criticism that you just don't realize about yourself. Make direct eye contact to show attentiveness and respect. Even if you don't have time to process this data yet, and you can't confirm their criticism of you... be an adult that handles yourself with dignity. Look them in the eye. Show respect to them for having them intestinal fortitude to come to you directly, regardless of manner. When your critic finishes, thank them for bringing their concerns to your attention. This seems crazy, but it is imperative that you understand you may be at fault and it is your responsibility to have that gut check and determine legitimacy to their claim. Vocalize that by telling them that you will consider what has been said. And don't make a promise you cannot keep. Don't immediately deny, but don't immediately apologize and promise an easy fix. Pray. Pray and ask the Lord if the accusation is valid. Let Him search your heart and either affirm your innocence or convict you.
Every rebuke is an opportunity from God. Worldly or spiritual, it's a chance to let your Christian character shine by showing Christ's love to your critic. If they are angrily attacking you, your respect and kindness become a powerful testimony. Criticism is also an occasion to humble yourself and accept the Lord's correction. Don't overlook the lesson.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

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