3 Ways to Silence Critics Without Saying a Word (or Sending a Tweet)
Here's a news flash --- as a leader, not everyone is going to like every decision you make or action you take.
I know, I know, unadulterated brilliance displayed as a keen observation. It's a gift!
Yet despite such piercing insight, there are many leaders and executives who care a great deal about the approval of others. You need to look no further than the current leader of the free world and his insatiable obsession with flaming tweets as a primary way to respond to critics.
While research (and common sense) shows that there is a natural human inclination to seek acceptance, it's clear that in our pursuit of inclusion each of us -- including the White House's Tweeter in Chief -- will experience opposition, disagreement and outright rejection from time-to-time.
A possible driver of this innate need to affiliate with others is the enormous impact a single critic can have on our psyche. Consider the 2011 Rolling Stone profile of Larry David, the co-creator of NBC's Seinfeld and HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, who attended a Yankees' game in his native New York after he had already achieved his unprecedented comedic success. David was publically recognized by the team, lauded by the stadium announcer, his image was shown on the stadium Jumbo-Tron screen and tens of thousands of fans cheered him.
But then while walking from the stadium after the game, some guy drove past the comedian and screamed, "David you suck!" The article states that David obsessed over that single negative comment the rest of the night, completely forgetting the adulation from the other 50,000 fans in attendance.
Critics have power but here are three ways to help you internally respond to criticism without letting it eat you up inside.
The law of "diminishing returns" not only applies to economics or market share, it also applies to the approval of others. There's a real tipping point when the energy expended outweighs any benefit of obtaining the desired acceptance. So quit the pursuit.
Additionally, there's a diminishing that occurs in the stature or reputation of a market leader or person of rank when they respond to baseless allegations. That's why during the 1980s Coca-Cola, the then-market leader, never acknowledged or addressed the Pepsi Taste Challenge. The Coke folks had no desire to lend their product's brand equity to Pepsi by validating the challenger's assertions with a response.
Applying the "diminishing returns" verbiage helps remove the emotion from the situation and can help you shrug it off.
Related: 10 Habits of Unlikeable People
End the blame game.
The knee jerk response when we're verbally attacked or criticized is to lash back in a self defense, which usually entails blaming someone else. While it might be understandable, it's typically a highly-questionable and ill-advised tactic.
If the criticism is unfounded, then ignore it. There's no need to add fuel to the claim by placing blame on someone else. If the unfavorable critique is true, quickly respond by accepting responsibility and advising how it won't happen again.
Not playing the blame game shortens the shelf life of a controversy or sting of criticism.
Realize that this too shall pass.
Humans instinctively move on from issues, situations or circumstances. The recent "best movie" faux pas at the Academy Awards ceremony is a fading example of our innate ability to keep moving forward.
Is the Oscars' example too shallow or inconsequential to use as a proof point? Then how about a few other major issues or circumstances that once dominated our public discussions but have since disappeared from public discourse including: H1N1, the Toyota recall or Chipotle's food crisis.
The key is recognize that everything is temporary in this life including major setbacks, failures or criticism.