Invite criticism, invite success

We all have a natural tendency to default to the easiest path. It’s not always a good tendency, but it has its place. For one thing, the easy default gets us through a thousand less important decisions each day. “White shirt or blue shirt?” Whatever’s easiest. “Ham or fish for dinner?” Pick one, I don’t care.

But sometimes the easy default just isn’t the right way to go. One place it can get in our way is when we ask for someone’s opinion, or offer our own. It’s ALWAYS easiest to say, “You were great! Way to go!” It means we won’t have to elaborate or deal with hurt feelings. But we have to remember that others are doing the same thing, and it keeps us from hearing the things that can actually vault us over that bar.

In order to get the feedback that can really make the difference for you, you’ll have to break through the resistance, shattering the barrier that keeps those around you from seeing that they aren’t doing you any favors by protecting you from success.

One of the best ways to do this is by priming the pump in advance. If you are about to give a presentation on which you’d like honest feedback, pull a colleague or two aside beforehand. Look them hard in the eyes and say, “I am about to give a presentation. I think it’s pretty good, but I know for a fact that it isn’t perfect. I’d like to get better and better at doing this, and I need your help. Please watch carefully and give me a few tips afterward.”

Your odds of getting real feedback just tripled. And the way you receive the feedback once it’s offered has everything to do with whether you can get it again, down the road.

If you can master the ability to hear honest criticism, you will have an incredible advantage over 95 percent of the humans around you. Whenever someone tells you of a weakness they perceive in you or in your work, receive it as a beautiful gift of their caring and a powerful opportunity for clarity about what you will choose to tackle and fix. Develop this ability, and you’ll soon be at the head of the pack.

Leave a Reply