I’ve got to admit, it doesn’t always feel great when someone corrects me. Recently a friend corrected a word I was using and I remember I felt this little pang of irritation. Now some of that may have been because of his tone of voice, or because I feel like he gets a kick out of correcting me now that I’m a published author, but regardless, I was curious why I felt that way.
After a few minutes thinking about this, I realized in this case it was simply my ego trying to protect myself. In my mind, I thought “I should have known that.” When he pointed it out, I had a feeling I wasn’t smart enough. This was a bit below the surface and it took some reflection to realize it; awareness truly is a gift.
Often we look at how we should deliver messages, and how it may come across to other people. But no matter how hard we try, there are going to be times when the message does not come across as you intended. That’s why it’s important for all of us to filter the messages we’re receiving - similar to a anti-virus software program. As something comes in, we need to consider whether it’s damaging or not. Our own anti-damaging message program can filter the message to make it helpful rather than harmful.
Take for example my friend correcting me on a word. As soon as I feel that little pang of irritation, that’s my opportunity for awareness. Why is this bothering me? Then I can change the thought I have about my friend’s tone of voice or that he’s just getting a kick out of this, and tell myself that his intent is to help me. Even if that’s not his intent, I can choose to take it as helpful. I can be grateful for the awareness he gave me. I’ll be more open, I’ll lighten up about it, and I’ll feel much better.
Next time your co-worker, peer, boss or direct report has something to tell you that might not be easy to receive, consider how you can decide to filter it into something helpful. After all, the way we react to someone else is just a reflection of who we are inside. If we’re defensive and lash out, then it’s obvious there’s something going on internally. Otherwise, you wouldn’t let someone else change who you are - your integrity would stay intact. It doesn’t mean you put up with abuse - it simply means you remain calm and react in a way that might be helpful to them, regardless of their intent.
If you want to learn more about this topic, check out Chapter 2 and 3 in Leading With GRIT.