Ever had your boss tell you there is a more efficient way for you to do your work? Or, perhaps you have had a good friend tell you that there is something that you do that really bothers him or her. If someone tells you that something that you do should change for the better, what is your reaction?
Most people would get defensive. Fear not. That is a normal reaction. I would, however, like to suggest that there really is no reason to get offended. I have talked before about the importance of feeling powerful in who you are as a person and not letting other people’s opinions of you upset you. If you respond to constructive criticism with defensiveness, you might want to work on your confidence. In yoga, we call this coming from your center, or your true sense of Self.
Self confident people see constructive criticism as an opportunity to improve, or calmly dismiss it as not applicable to them. People who are confident in who they are would hear someone else’s opinion, and evaluate whether or not it is advice they choose to adopt without a strong emotional reaction.
The next time someone comes to you with a suggestion of a better way, ask yourself, what is their intention? Was it their intention to make you feel bad about yourself? Maybe, however, I am referring to constructive criticism, not someone venting to you about something you do. If the approach of the person making the suggestion is calm and in your best interest, there is no need to take their suggestion as a personal attack.
After you have evaluated their intention (constructive or a personal attack), try analyzing their suggestion critically. Could their suggestion benefit you in the long run? If so, perhaps it is a good idea to adopt that practice. If not, then you do not have to do what they say. You always have a choice, even if you boss is telling you to do something and you really disagree. Your choices in this case would be to acquiesce even though you do agree, to try to work out a compromise, or to start looking for another job.
It is always better to try to remain calm than it is to get angry or to start feeling bad about yourself. Like I have suggested before: stop, breathe, and take a second to think before you react.
Every day is an opportunity to grow. When we remain humble and open to the possibility of change, life becomes much more pleasant. Remember that negative emotions do not serve you. What does serve you is remaining calm and dealing with situations proactively. Yes, what I am proposing does take a lot of practice, but in the long run, you will be much happier and much more effective at communication.
The constructive advice someone gives you might actually turn out to be a better way. If you listen and remain open to suggestions, you might learn something, and become a better person. But no matter what, at least you will remain confident in who you are as a person. Your opinion of yourself is way more important than someone else’s opinion of you. Believe in that, and communicating with others becomes a very pleasant process, instead of an anxiety laden process.