Dealing With Criticism Even When It Feels Personal
Fortune magazine did a study on criticism in the workplace and it turns out women are more likely to get criticized at work than men.
The study also found that both male and female managers are more likely to give men suggestions on ways to improve, while telling women they are too overbearing or abrasive. Part of the problem here unfortunately, is that many women are viewed as 'bossy' when they speak their minds, which isn't necessarily true.
Out of 248 reviews on the study, 71% of women received negative comments from their employers, while only 2% of men received negative feedback. Additionally, 81% of men said the feedback they received was 'constructive', while only 23% of women could say the same. Ok, so why? Well, writer Tara Mohr tells The New York Times her explanation:
"For centuries, women couldn't protect their own safety through physical, legal, or financial means..." writes Mohr. "Being likable, or at least acceptable to stronger, more powerful others, was one of our primary available survival strategies. For many women around the world, this is still the reality, but all women inherit the psychological legacy of that history. Disapproval, criticism, and the withdrawal of others' approval can feel so petrifying for us at times--life-threatening even--because for millenniums, it was."
So maybe you don't have a thick skin, and don't have the easiest time accepting criticism. Well, it's not something you're expected to develop overnight. It's a learning and growing process. Ms. Mohr has some advice for women though, on how to make accepting criticism in the work place a little bit easier to swallow.
First she suggests, picturing a woman you admire, and thinking about how she would handle criticism. There are reasons you admire her right? I know for me, I look up to women who are confident, strong, resilient and inspirational. I look up to them because they have qualities I admire. Imagine how this person you look up to would handle criticism, and use that to mold your own response.
Secondly, think of any feedback you get, positive or negative, as information. Don't look at it as good or bad, just take it for face value, and try to use it to your advantage. Perhaps you could be better at whatever you're doing, that's ok, no one is perfect! Use that feedback to your benefit.
Lastly, this is my own personal piece of advice, and I should use it in my own life more often. Don't take anything personal. We all take way too many things personal in life, both professionally and personally. No one has the time to sit around and plot how they are going to upset you, trust me. We all have our own lives, our own stress and our own reasons for doing what we do. The majority of the time, even if it feels like it, it has nothing to do with you...and that's not a bad thing!