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How to LEARN from criticism

A couple nights ago, Detroit Tiger centerfielder Tyler Collins lost a fly ball in the lights or the sun. Because he's paid to catch those balls, and because the Tigers are not playing well right now, the fans rightly booed him. He responded by showing them all the "one way to heaven sign".

Shortly there after, Tyler Collins was sent back to the minor leagues. 

Don't respond to criticism like Tyler Collins did. Instead when someone offers you a critique, LEARN from it.

LISTEN to their words. 

You cannot learn with an open mouth. James, in the Bible, said we should all listen before we speak. A common temptation, when facing criticism, is listening in order to respond. You might find yourself hearing the other person's words, but you're already formulating your answer. Instead listen only to hear what they say. Commit not to respond until you're absolutely sure they said what they want to say, and you understand what they mean.

EMPATHIZE with their viewpoint.

Of course you already know your opinion on the matter, but do you truly understand their perspective? How can you know if their criticism is true, partially true or completely false if you don't grasp their viewpoint? Think about how their experience, their personality, and their previous interactions with you might play in to how they saw the matter at hand. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

ASK clarifying questions.

Do not interrogate the person who is come to you. Do not try to catch them in a contradiction. Do not be defensive. Only use questions to clarify exactly what they are saying. If you are certain you understand, refreeze their opinion in your own words and ask them if you've got it right. If you don't, go back and start over. If they agree that you understand, now is the time to consider whether or not they are right.

REFLECT on the criticism.

Rarely will anyone's criticism of you be 100% correct. Rarely will it be 100% incorrect. Follow the ancient wisdom, chew the fish but spit out the bones. No matter how difficult or painful it might be, find that one nugget of truth and hold onto it. If possible graciously acknowledge your agreement and thank them for loving you enough to point this out.

LIVE accordingly.

Once you've identified the valid criticism, make the change you need to make. It may be small or it may be large; it may be easy or it may be difficult; it may take time or it may be immediate. Make a plan, set it in motion, take the first step.

Criticism is painful, but so is a doctor's shot. Immunizations prevent you from getting sick. Criticism prevents you from growing arrogant. Accept it, embrace it, and never run from it. And most importantly, don't follow Tyler Collins' example.


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