Merge's Blog

Respond to negative criticism by fogging

Criticism is hard to take, and most people, leaders included, find themselves getting defensive when employees, co-workers, or even senior leaders censure them.  Unfortunately, as natural as a defensive response may be, it will still negatively affect your credibility and how you are perceived by others in the workplace.  Do it often enough and you may get an undeserved reputation as someone who cannot listen and positively act on feedback.  No matter what the circumstances, it’s worth mastering the very useful and versatile communication tool called “fogging.”  Fogging simply means to “stay cool”.  Imagine that one day, out on a walk, a thick fog descends and leaves you unsure of which way to turn.  You may be frustrated or angry, but there’s nothing that you can do to the fog to relieve your frustration.  Striking out at the fog, throwing stones at it, or even cursing it would leave the fog completely unaffected.  The language technique of fogging simply means training yourself to stay calm, “stay cool” in the face of criticism, and agree with whatever may be fair and useful in it.  Merely respond to the criticism with one of these phrases:

That could be true …

You’re probably right …

Sometimes I think so myself …

I agree …

That’s true …

You’re right …

You have a point there …

Implied in fogging (but never actually said) is “So what?”  The beauty of this language tool: by refusing to be provoked and upset by the criticism, you remove its destructive power.  By acknowledging the other person’s point of view, you don’t come across as defensive.  It`s true that fogging requires some self-control, but if you can master the technique, it can be devastatingly effective.  Write and tell me about your experience with fogging.

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