The first thing that most people do when criticized is to jump on the defensive side and justify themselves, trying to prove that the other party is completely wrong. What these people don’t realize is that by blocking any chance of taking anyone else’s opinion, they may lose the chance of perhaps getting an excellent advice. However such reaction to criticism is a natural innate reaction, similar to the “fight or flight” response our pre-historic ancestors had.
According to the British Psychological Society, “ The main reasons that get to leaders derailment is that they acquire an inflated sense of self-importance, grandiosity and entitlement, with weaknesses such as sensitivity to criticism, poor listening skills, a lack of empathy, a dislike for mentoring, and an intense desire to compete.”
To understand how successful people deal with criticism, we have studied 18 personalities from several industries, and came up with the 5 most important “must haves” that enable leaders to accept criticism and work with it turning it to their advantage.
According to their success stories, leaders must:
Have a Vision
When we have a vision, all of our focus will be on the long run and all of our efforts will be directed towards results. Successful people will use the criticism to their own benefit, and will see how they can integrate it in reaching their vision. They focus on what is right and not on who is right.
Have a Positive Mental Attitude
Successful people are optimists. They don’t let criticism hold them, they will instead look at the bright side and try to learn from every lesson. When you adopt a positive mental attitude, you will not be challenged by the person criticizing you.
As Winston Churchill puts it: “It takes courage to sit down and listen”. Successful leaders sit down, disarm, and open up to learn from others. “ People take criticism differently depending on who is giving them the commentary , we tend to normally accept our superiors comments while reject comments made from people who are at the same level of education, wealth and business seniority” says Fadi El Halabi a psychotherapist and expert on human relations.
Have a Democratic Attitude
Thinking or going big requires getting rid of the “my way or the highway attitude” and by that it means one should value the ideas of others above their own. The success of Steve jobs is his ability to listen to others and put people’s ideas into the market.
Have Emotional Intelligence
A high emotional quotient (EQ) is necessary for every successful leader. Leaders go through a lot of roller coasters and the more adept you are in riding those ups and down, the more successful you will become. Emotional intelligence helps those leaders to stay focused. As Mayer & Saliovey puts it “ People high in emotional intelligence are expected to progress more quickly through the abilities designated and to master more of them."