A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a new friend at an event about women in the workplace. We acknowledged that while we love to see more women in leadership roles, not all women do the right thing by supporting other women. My friend shared a story of how she was denied a job at a prominent company where a female Vice President told her that they were hiring someone else because she was ‘too ambitious’ for the role and that she should re-consider the fast trajectory of her goals.
Thankfully, my friend ignored this ‘feedback’ and has built an incredible career path for herself. However, she shared that this experience was still hurtful and brought up some self-doubt and uncertainty, even though she knew it wasn’t true.
How many of you can relate to this? Have you ever been told your goals are unachievable? That you should settle for what you don’t want? Perhaps you’ve been told that you’re too [fill in the blank], or not [fill in the blank] enough?
There is a BIG difference between constructive criticism and someone’s own projections and beliefs disguised as feedback. In this video blog, I offer a couple of tools to help you navigate these uncomfortable situations, and a perspective on how to manage the internal sting of unwarranted criticism.
Ask for Specific Examples: If you receive feedback in the workplace that seems generalized or unclear, ask for specific examples of where you’ve demonstrated the behavior in question. For example, if someone tells you that you were aggressive in a meeting, you can respond with: ‘Its concerns me to hear that. Could you please provide some examples of where I demonstrated this in the meeting?’ From there, you can decide the validity of their perspective and if its genuine feedback.
Probe their Feedback: Sometimes even well-meaning people project their own insecurities, limitations and ‘stuff’ onto you in the form of advice or feedback. Take the example of my friend when she was told that she was too ambitious and should lower her goals. A great method to question these type of remarks is to ask: ‘What makes you say that?’ or ‘What do you mean by that?’ This is a gentle way of ‘calling out’ the other person and understanding exactly what was intended by their comments. It often reveals their real ‘stuff’ going on beneath the surface that has nothing to do with you or your abilities.
Slow Down: It’s okay to feel hurt, doubtful, or angry when receiving misaligned criticism. Allow yourself to experience whatever comes up and examine it with compassion and curiosity: What about the criticism was hurtful or frustrating? Talk to a supportive friend or journal about it so you can let go of the feelings from the experience and fully move forward.
Finally, no matter what anyone might tell you, you ARE fully capable of creating whatever you desire in life without having to sacrifice any part of yourself in the process. The people that try to tell you otherwise? Brush them off and know that if you believe in something, you can achieve it. I do this work because I believe in you and that your goals are WORTH it.
Do you have a story similar to this? How did you handle it? I'd love to hear from you, and you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story and ask me any questions that you have!