|07-16-2006, 06:56 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2004
Accepting Criticism And Say No With Grace
Accepting criticism and saying no with grace
Wisdow and a quiet heart
Sunday, July 16, 2006
"Wisdom is the breath of the power of God, and in all ages entering into holy souls she maketh them friends of God and prophets"
- Ralph Waldo Trine, In Tune with the Infinite
Some years ago, while I was working in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Cookie Durrant, a Vincentian colleague of mine, commented on how a person's face would change once they had to deny a request or say the word, 'No', for whatever reason. He said that he had always wondered why people could not simply say 'No' in as pleasant a manner as they would say 'Yes', and pointed out that it was not only their face that changed, but also the tone of their voice and their body language, becoming almost confrontational.
The same is true for those on the receiving end of criticism. Most of us find it just as difficult to accept criticism as we find it to deny a request or to say the word, 'No'. Our inability to say 'No' or to deny requests in a pleasant way and with a suitable explanation, if required, results in our making promises that we do not intend to keep, telling blatant lies for no good reason, or simply in remaining noncommittal at critical times when honest answers are required. This causes disruption in the lives and schedules of others in the short term and the breakdown of trust and all of the negative consequences emanating from this breakdown in the long term.
Feedback is critical to any effective operational system or organisation. If you have a role to play, regardless of whether this is in the home, the workplace or any other type of organisation, and there is no feedback to let you know how you are performing, either in relation to expected output or in terms of your relationships with others, then you are in the dark, proceeding merrily along with problems, if they exist as they will, only getting worse as time passes.
So criticism is important. Some make the distinction between constructive and destructive criticism. I have learnt in my own life that both are of benefit if it forces us to pause, reflect and do our own self-analysis, regardless of how unwarranted and unjust we may consider the criticism at the time it was received. But, of course, unless you have a very thick skin, destructive criticism can be devastating, especially for those who are already insecure.
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, says that an artful critique focuses on what a person has done and can do rather than reading a mark of character into a job poorly done. He says that, in terms of motivation, when people believe that their failures are due to some unchangeable deficit in themselves, they lose hope and stop trying.
The basic belief that leads to optimism is that setbacks or failures are due to circumstances that we can do something about to change them for the better. He quotes psychoanalyst Harry Levinson as advising those on the receiving end of criticism to not only see criticism as valuable information about how to do better and not a personal attack, but also as an opportunity to work together with the critic to solve the problem, not as an adversarial situation.
A Quiet Heart
Meditation for those quiet moments in your special silent place.
"When have you last had a good session with yourself? Or have you ever had it out with you? A chance remark from a friend may bring you quickly to face the fact that you are a pretender in relation to others, that you never faced up to your own lack of integrity in word and in act. You may discover that in trying to make a decision involving a course of action, you are utterly incompetent to do so because you have never claimed your mind as your own.
All through the years you have drifted from one position to another, letting your meaning be determined by your response to others or their demands - not determined by how you felt, really, nor what you personally thought. Now you look for some clue outside of yourself and there is none to be found. You must decide and abide.
Whatever may be the occasion, there comes a deep necessity which leads you finally into the closet with yourself. It is here that you raise the real questions about yourself. The leading one is, What is it, after all, that I amount to, ultimately? Such a question cuts through all that is superficial and trivial in life to the very nerve centre of yourself.
And this is a religious question because it deals with the total meaning of life at its heart. At such a moment, and at such a time, you must discover for yourself what is the true basis of your self-respect. This is found only in relation to God whose presence makes itself known in the most lucid moments of self-awareness."
- Howard Thurman,
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