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Tag Archives: reducing defensiveness

The art of dealing with criticism at work

Criticism stings.  Sure, it is sometimes couched as gentler “feedback”, or offered as “advice”, or even presented as a “pointer”.  Yet criticism it is.  And most of us don’t respond positively to criticism, especially at first.  Dealing with criticism is difficult and sometimes hard to swallow.  But if you want to grow as a valued professional and a respected leader, it is to your benefit to open-mindedly evaluate the criticism you hear, even if it hurts or it isn’t what you believe to be true.  But how exactly does one do that?

So glad you asked!  Because that is exactly what I cover in my latest column in The Globe and Mail which published this morning.  In it, I outline a simple two-dimensional tool that I utilize in my one-on-one mentoring work with leaders in my client organizations.  I call it the “Valid and important” model, and it’s very useful when dealing with criticism.

Evaluating what matters: A better way to deal with criticism at work

dealing with criticism

If you get the print version of The Globe, you’ll find this column on page B10. Continue reading

I versus We – both are powerful in different situations

IVsWeIn my leadership and communication programs, I often teach how to use “I” language to reduce defensiveness in others, particularly when trying to convey a message that may be perceived as negative.   “I” language is a very powerful communication tool in certain situations, but I am often asked – Why not “we”?  Good question!  So let me answer this question of “I versus We” in today’s blog post.

“We” has an important place for leaders in a business environment, specifically at its most effective when being used to take credit.  “We beat this quarter’s sales targets” or “We achieved 99% customer satisfaction ratings in April” are great situations in which to use “we”.  It builds team spirit and morale, creates positive energy, and as an extra bonus – makes you come across as a graceful leader.  This is true even if it was one person that contributed the most to the great result, because there is nothing stopping you from following up the initial statement with more detail about individual performance.  In contrast, Continue reading

Defensiveness in employees – who is really at fault?

Businessman OppressedLast week I received an unexpected phone call from a speaking colleague that made me think about defensiveness in employees in a whole new light.

This colleague called because she wanted to offer me “feedback” about an email I’d sent her in which I was soliciting support for a charitable cause launched by our professional association (of which we are both members). In case you’re wondering 🙂 her “feedback” wasn’t positive – she felt my writing was aggressive and was upset that I had contacted her on this subject. Ironically, I had sent an almost identical email to several other colleagues (also members of the association), and had already received responses from at least three of them complimenting me on a well-written missive and thanking me for reaching out to them. So needless to say, I was nonplussed by her reaction. Now I’m not averse to receiving feedback, negative or positive, particularly given that it’s something I encourage my clients to be willing and open to do. Continue reading

When you’re faced with resistance, ask questions

If you’ve ever had to pitch an idea or persuade others of your point of view, then you know all about the natural reaction that bubbles up from within when you hear the word “no”, or when others begin to question or criticize your perspective.  Instinctively, we tend to get defensive, and we try to immediately fight back and defend our position or project.  But in my experience, it’s actually far more effective to take a completely different approach – to ask questions.

The next time you face opposition or resistance, hold yourself back from verbalizing all the reasons why you are right or why your project should get the go-ahead.  Instead, ask a few well-chosen questions.  “Why do you think that?” or “What led you to that conclusion?” will force others to articulate their assumptions, and will not only give you a useful insight into where they are coming from, but may also cause them to re-evaluate their position.  I have found that asking questions  not only helps me keep my defensiveness in check, but perhaps more importantly, takes my conversations to a deeper level.  It allows you to get beyond the immediate disagreement and find out more about what the motivations are on all sides.

So have you found this to be true as well?  Please … share your experiences, positive or negative.