This email, from a Leadership Freak reader, arrived yesterday.
… I recently (this week) came up on a situation with a would-be employer and immediately thought of you. Turning to my trusted network: would you be open to having a quick conversation about it? …
Fred (Not his real name.)
We chatted for about 30 minutes.
Fred explained that he was nearing decision-time, after a lengthy interview process, when one senior interviewer offered a slight criticism.
I felt Fred’s frustration. Everyone loved Fred. Frankly, when we do a great job, a thank you seems sufficient.
Fred wondered if there was a power-play at work. “Perhaps he’s putting me in my place.”
I asked, “If his critic’s intentions were positive, what might they be?”
Fred replied that his critic might be testing him to see how he responds to criticism. Perhaps he wonders if I can adapt to their culture?
Our conversation turned to apple pies.
Suppose you’ve been making apple pies – that your friends and family love – for years. Imagine a stranger, who takes a bite, and, offhandedly suggests, “It needs more sugar.”
Possible responses to the more-sugar-suggestion:
- You should enjoy the pie and keep your mouth shut, except to say, Thank you. (A personal favorite.)
- Everyone loves my apple pies!
- How many apple pies have you made?
- The sugar bowl is in the cupboard. Help yourself!
- Some jerks are actually trying to be helpful, they just suck at it.
- The criticism has a grain of truth in it.
- Maybe your critic is a jerk.
- Thank you for your observation. … Gratitude.
- What makes you say that? … Cause.
- How might I address this issue? … Solution.
- Wow! I hadn’t thought of it that way. … Exploration.
How might leaders respond to criticism in areas where they feel they excel?
What’s important about offering criticisms?
**This post reflects our conversation. It is not verbatim.