When you are a request for coaching, it doesn’t make any difference what people say. You can learn to roll with the punches. You can learn to let criticism roll off you like water off a duck’s back.
Think about this. How do you react when people offer suggestions that differ from the way you feel about things? Many people react negatively. They turn off the other person by changing the subject or starting an argument about it. We sometimes call these suggestions criticism. No one likes to be criticized.
Often, the other person, in an attempt to make you feel better, may tell you that he or she is only offering “constructive” criticism to be helpful. We will hear them say something like, “I am only telling you this for your own good.” They mean well. Usually their criticism is not requested. In this context we seldom listen to and often become offended by criticism that wasn’t requested. Calling it “constructive” is a joke.
Let’s examine constructive criticism. Constructive is defined as “to build, improve or advance, resulting in a positive conclusion.” Sounds great, so far. Right? On the other hand, to criticize is to judge severely or to censure. To censure is to demonstrate an expression of disapproval. I have a question for you. How can you get a positive conclusion from an expression of disapproval?
Constructive criticism is only destructive. Those two words don’t belong together. There is no such thing as constructive criticism.
Let’s dispel this myth once and for all.
When someone criticizes you, or as we can now say, offers coaching, smile and give them a thoughtful, warm response. Thank them for sharing. The warmer your answer to their criticism, the more dignified you become. Be warm, be friendly and be non-defensive. When you are coachable you can learn to listen to someone elses extremely different point of view and know that you are perfectly okay and so are they. Unless you have made a commitment to be coachable this is not easy. Although your first reaction may be to disregard their criticism, when you are coachable, and especially if it is something you don’t want to hear, you will pay attention to it.
Keep in mind that what the other person says that you call criticism is only their assessment; only their opinion. Criticism is not personal. It is only the “stuff” of the person who criticizes. It doesn’t mean anything. It isn’t right or wrong. It is only their point of view. There is no right or wrong. There is only your perception of right or wrong and there are consequences.
It’s an attitude. It’s how you listen that makes the difference. It’s being open at the top. How can you expect to be contributed to if you are always listening to criticism as criticism? Here’s a “what if” for you. What if when someone offers “constructive criticism,” you could listen to it like it was assistance that you requested? Would that make a difference in your life? Of course. And, what if they were right? All we are saying here is don’t discount ideas, suggestions, criticism, advice and other people’s offers to help. If you do, you may miss an opportunity for constructive coaching.
When criticism shows up you get to listen to it anyway you want. Put aside your personal feelings and focus on what you find useful to you. You get to make the choice about whether you implement their “constructive criticism” or not. You may not accept what they say as truth and you may want to take a closer look at it. Play with the idea. If it works for you, use it. If not, discard it and move on to what’s next. When you are coachable, you listen to criticism like coaching. Doing this can change your perception of the way things appear. Criticism dies when there is no listening for it.
You don’t have to agree with everything your coaches say. I have found that in my own experience of coaching and being coachable, a good question to ask yourself is, “What if what they said worked?” What if they were right? Usually when I am confronted by what has been said, I know that the confrontation has hit a sore spot that needs my attention. I pay attention to that one even more.
Another truth is, some people love to criticize. Even when you are coachable, it is still often difficult to deal with people who are totally committed to being critical. Be strong. Be brave. You can do it.
Remember, all winners have coaches. If you are going to be successful at networking, you would be wise to get a coach. Be different. Be a winner. Have everyone show up as a coach for you. When you are coachable, coaches show up everywhere. When help comes from an unlikely source, be grateful. People who are coachable listen for opportunities to be coached. They listen to what people say like a quarterback listens to a coach – like what the coach says may make a difference in their game next week.
Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. From the chapter, “Be Coachable!” in Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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