…continued from last month...
I can be defeated by criticism by:
1. Rejecting it all. This assumes that I am the smartest, wisest person on earth. There is no one who knows as much-and certainly not more than I do. No one could tell me a better way to think or act. Therefore, I do not need to hear a critic. And if anyone should have one small bit of information different from what I have already thought (and I doubt if they do), they must come with the best attitude (judged by me), with the right tone of voice, at the right time, and acknowledge that I am probably right. Moreover, if I am not right on this issue, I am right on everything else.
2. Accepting it all. Everyone knows more than I do. All people are wiser than I am. Any time any one tells me a better way to think or act, I must comply with his or her wishes. After all, I have few goals in life. My main one is to please everyone all the time. That's not asking much. Therefore, when anyone criticizes me, I will immediately take that person's advice. I will comply with his wishes.
There is at least one more choice. I can listen to what others say. I can thank them for their concern. Anyone who finds salmonella or E. coli in my refrigerator and tells me is my friend-not my enemy. Anyone who criticizes has some concern, some connection to me.
After I have listened, I can think. I can evaluate. I can decide if the comments were helpful, hurtful, or neutral. I can choose to accept, reject, or ponder the comments. I am not obligated to accept, refuse, defend, or refute. I can think and act appropriately. When I have remembered to do this, I become less anxious and wiser.
Charles Reynolds Brown, dean of Yale Divinity School, commented, "The man who does not know, and does not know that he does not know and is not willing that anyone should tell him that he does not know, had better not enter the ministry-he had better raise sweet potatoes "Education for Christian Service, "The Training of a Minister," page 11).
For a longer discussion of this subject, select the CD: How to Accept, Invite, and Enjoy Criticism .