Dealing With Criticism Without Clamming Up, Cowering, or going Crazy
When you deal with critical people is it difficult for you to stay calm and present--you know the types of difficult people who have something to say but can't say it without yelling and trying to convince you that you're wrong.
Would you like more choices than just squirming in your seat, running for the hills, or screaming back to defend yourself? If so, there are two areas to investigate whenever you find yourself reacting like this: In Here and Out There.
First Look at What's Happening "In Here"
The space inside your head is the first place to investigate whenever you start to feel distress in these circumstances. This is where you'll discover the thinking that is causing the problems you think are going on "out there."
Have you ever watched para-surfing--the spot of using a small para-sail to pull yourself through the water on a surfboard? Your thinking is similar to the para-sail in the breeze, the surf and the breeze are the circumstances or what's happening "out there."
If you don't know how to control the para-sail, it is not very likely you'll be able to stay balanced on the surfboard, let alone have the ability to maintain control of where you're going. Keeping your balance is vital for managing your responses and your ability to influence the situation when someone is flipping out.
Beginning to Fall - Catching Yourself - Then Beginning to Falling - Then. . .
Imagine you're on a surfboard, standing with perfect balance. There is nothing pushing on you, the surfboard or the para-sail. Very calm and Zen-like, but there's not much happening either.
The fun begins when the breeze catches your para-sail and you sense the resistance of the water under the surfboard. In that moment you beginning to fall forward--and unless you get your balance back very quickly, you're going to wipe out.
So you regain your balance and your off, But then a wave comes up and the breeze shifts and you're beginning to fall again, and then you quickly regain your balance, and then you're beginning to fall, and then. . .
How Do You Keep Your Balance in the Face of Criticism?
You need two ingredient that are required for you to keep your emotional balance in the face of intense disapproval. First, you need be able to distinguish the very first moment you start feeling uneasiness of any kind. Then, just like para-sailing, you must have the skills you need to regain your emotional balance in an instant.
The first ingredient--recognizing the moment you start feeling uneasy--is in fact more difficult than it may seem.
It was found in studies designed to reduce police violence, it was found that officers who were questioned closely recognized that there were usually five verbal communications that happened before the incidence of violence. And that each exchange had become more emotionally charged.
But even these highly trained policemen hadn't been aware of these exchanges until they were questioned. Once they realized this they also realized that they may have avoided the violence if they had handled any one of these communications a little bit differently.
Just like these policemen, you also have an "emotional guidance system" that is very accurate in alerting you to the very first moment things are beginning to get out of balance. You can use your emotions in the same way you use the control lines of the para-sail to control where your headed.
When you learn to respond appropriately to your emotional guidance--the lines--you can then gain control of your thinking--the para-sail. This is how you keep your balance and are able to control where the situation is headed.
How do You Control What's Happening Out There
It's unfortunate, but very few of us have been trained about how we can use our emotional guidance, the way that it relates to our thinking, or how we can use these to help control our internal responses and how we behave.
Instead, most of us grew up with the idea that we're being dragged into and out of one circumstance after another--unable to do anything more than hope for the best and hang on.
Or worse yet: we have been led astray about our "emotional guidance system" and told that being "emotional" is a "bad thing," "the best defense is a good offence," "it's a dog-eat-dog world," and countless other beliefs that teach us to react from fear rather than respond appropriately.
Which brings us back to the second ingredient--having developed the skills needed to get your emotional balance back in an instant.
This is equivalent to using the lines to control the shape of para-sail in the breeze. This requires the ability to consciously choose what you believe, which in turn governs what you think! This often means you must un-learn prior beliefs.
The process we're describing is what we call developing your Values Intelligence--your ability to refine your awareness of what you value, and then to apply what you value, regardless of your circumstance.Unless you develop these skills--just like the policemen we told you about--it is unlikely you'll notice when things are going wrong soon enough, or be able to respond soon enough, to prevent another person's minor upset from escalating into freaking out on your part--or even more critical problems.