Dealing with Criticism

The ability to handle criticism in a proper manner is vital to personal growth.


Often times we find ourselves unable to deal with criticism from an outside source. Our reaction is using one involving us telling that person to not judge, or the infamous, “Then do it yourself.” However, after reading a recent article, I have come to realize that dealing with criticism and feedback are absolutely critical skills to have in both the workplace and life in general.

The importance of accepting criticism and feedback was realized again recently, when Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, visited the Airbnb headquarters and was asked a simple question: “What’s the number one thing you look for in someone who can scale with the company?” In other words, what is the most important thing you look for in a job candidate that you hope will grow as the company grows and is successful? Sandberg’s response was quite direct, “Someone who takes feedback well. Because people who can take feedback well are people who can learn and grow quickly.” Short and to the point. Sandberg is absolutely right. People who that can demonstrate the ability to respond positively to criticism are the type of people that learn and grow the most because it forces them to see how they can get better and improve what they are doing. This is a great skill to have for anyone regardless of job title or level.

More often than not, emotion gets in the way of our attempts to deal constructively when we are offered criticism. When we receive negative feedback, our initial reaction a significant percentage of time is to get angry at the person offering the feedback and to tune them out and not listen. This is a reactive response to something that should be turned into a learning and growing experience. In order for this learning experience to happen, we must ask ourselves questions like, “How can I get better?” and “What can I learn from this person’s point of view?” In doing so, we force ourselves to see our faults and the different areas in which we can improve.

Criticism and feedback are always going to be a part of anything that you do in life. Whether the feedback was asked for or not, does not matter. In each piece of feedback, there are some truths to be learned. Only when we stop for a moment and teach ourselves that criticism should not elicit an emotional response can we begin to learn to see feedback and criticism as a positive path on which to move forward.

Millennials: Impostor Syndrome

If you are a high achieving Millennial but feel strange acknowledging your accomplishments, you are not alone.

While Millennials are said to suffer from a variety of issues because of the things we have experienced during our time, nothing may be more prevalent than a condition known as Imposter Syndrome. This is a condition in which people have feelings of inadequacy and a general negative sense of self-worth. For some reason, Millennials are suffering from this condition much more than those of the Baby Boomer Generation or Generation X. Some people may write this off by claiming that Millennials are just thin skinned and need to toughen up, but this is not a condition to be overlooked. The blame is most likely to be placed in the hands of the parents and guardians that raised Millennials, and on the rise of new technologies such as social media.

Imposter Syndrome does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, from every walk of life, at any point in their life. It is a phenomenon, mostly experienced by high achieving individuals, in which the sufferer is unable to internalize and accept their successes and achievements. According to a study by the International Journal of Behavioral Health, 70 percent of people suffer from these feelings of inadequacy and fraud. Many feel as though their accomplishments are more likely the result of dumb luck than of their abilities and they fear that someone else will discover that they are not as accomplished as they are. Despite not being recognized as an official diagnosis in the DSM, most psychiatrists and behavioral experts acknowledge the phenomenon as a real disorder of intellectual self-doubt. This syndrome is often accompanied by severe anxiety and depression.

It is no surprise then that Millennials suffer from this syndrome more than other generations. Several studies have shown that nearly half of all Millennials surveys hold moderate to high superiority beliefs about themselves. A large part of this can be blamed on our parents. We were doted on as children and given a trophy when we excelled AND when we lost, in an effort to not damage our self-esteem. It is not surprising that Millennials are also referred to as the Trophy Generation. As kids, we received a healthy dose of over-praise or criticism. According to the American Psychological Association, these mixed messages from parents tend to increase fraudulent feelings in adulthood. So when someone of the Millennial Generation does rise to some level of prominence or fulfill a major accomplishment, it is no wonder that they feel as though they are undeserving or got there with luck rather than their talents. When everyone places such a high price on success, and you finally “make it,” the success becomes hollow and unfulfilling as we question whether or not we deserve to have accomplished something in the first place.

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