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How to Deal with Criticism in One Single Step

How to Deal with Criticism in One Single Step

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    Let’s say you’re a web designer, or a writer (just for the purpose of this post, so please bear with me). And you’ve just created a new website (or an article). You love it. That thing is awesome. Everything your client could ever ask for. The design – slick. The goals – achieved. The budget – not exceeded. It fits your client’s requirements hand-in-glove.

    Then you start thinking: “Wow, I’m so proud of myself right now. I need to show this thing to my best friend, even though he’s not a designer,” so you do.

    And what does that traitorous little weasel say? “It’s cool, but I don’t know… This header seems a little too minimalistic. Plus the font is not friendly enough, and I really believe it would have been so much better with a bigger logo.” Just the pat on the back you’ve been looking for…

    So what’s the first and only step of dealing with criticism?

    Don’t care. You’re not going to please everybody.

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    I know what you’re thinking, and please don’t scream at the screen. You’re thinking that while not all criticism is constructive you always have to try to extract some valid points out of it.

    Well, you don’t. Not in this case.

    First things first, let’s start with explaining why you asked for an opinion in the first place, and what was the reason behind choosing that specific person to address the question to.

    Were you really looking for an opinion or just a pat on the back?

    If you were looking for a pat on the back and you didn’t receive one then just stop right there and leave it, you really shouldn’t care. Just find someone else to ask and try again. Repeat until you get what you want. Caring too much eventually destroys your productivity even more than answering emails.

    On the other hand, if you wanted a real constructive opinion, then why did you ask someone who probably doesn’t have any knowledge in that field?

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    Let me put it this way; would you really care when someone said something like: “I think that medical diagnosis your doctor gave you is wrong! I’m not a doctor, but trust me, I know this stuff. I’ve seen three seasons of Dr. House.” … of course you wouldn’t. You know better than that.

    So here’s the lesson. If you want a valid opinion ask someone who can give you one.

    If you want a medical consultation ask a doctor. If you want a legal consultation ask a lawyer. If you want a design consultation ask a designer.

    If you ask the wrong person, well, you’ve brought it upon yourself, so now you’ll just have to deal with it. Just because someone is your friend/mom/brother/bartender doesn’t make them the right person to ask.

    I know that every now and then even a random person can give you good advice, but that’s just life. Every now and then you will find money on the sidewalk, but it doesn’t mean you should make it your new career and search for it 40 hours a week.

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    I’m sure you will get far better insights by asking just two people (or even one person) who have some experience with whatever you want to ask them about. That is, of course, if you’re looking for a real opinion. If you’re just looking for a pat on the back then go with ten random people.

    OK, moving on. What if the right person didn’t like your work either?

    Don’t give up. Follow up with that person and ask one simple question: “why?” Always ask “why”. Search for some valid points. Ask until you get an answer like: “I don’t like it because …” Search for the “because” – that’s what’s important. If the person can’t give you a “because” then:

    Don’t care. You’re not going to please everybody.

    If that’s a really valid “because,” something that forces you to think, something that’s real, and makes you feel embarrassed that you didn’t come up with it yourself, then, by all means, consider it and try to improve your project. Then get back to that person and ask for another opinion. And again – you want a “because” this time as well.

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    On the other hand, if the “because” is just silly; something like “I don’t like the green theme of the website because I prefer blue”, or “I don’t like your new furniture because mahogany is not really my thing” then:

    Don’t care. You’re not going to please everybody.

    The art of dealing with criticism is really simple. If it’s valid – care. If it’s not – don’t care, forget about it.

    What are your ways of dealing with criticism? Do you care? Tell me in the comments below!

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    Karol Krol

    Blogger, published author, and founder of a site that's all about delivering online business advice

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    Last Updated on February 21, 2019

    The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

    The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

    In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

    Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

    Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

    Conflicts are literally everywhere.

    Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

    Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

    Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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    Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

    Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

    Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

    The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

    Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

    Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

    How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

    Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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    Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

    Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

    How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

    Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

    Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

    Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

    How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

    Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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    Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

    Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

    How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

    Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

    Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

    Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

    How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

    Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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    Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

    Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

    How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

    Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

    Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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