Last post looked at one aspect of being criticized by others. While we can learn from everyone, there are some from whom we will pay more attention than from others. Here’s another form of critique and correction we hear less about, but doing this pays huge dividends.
Self-correction is a key strategy of one who leads, sells and lives successfully. It also tends to be a trait of one who is of high character.
Does this conflict with the fact that those of high character tend to stand very firm on their guiding principles? Not one bit.
As Zig Ziglar says, “Be firm on principle but flexible on method.”
There is also no natural dichotomy on being principle-based and admitting one is wrong. Successful people are not only open to hearing about their mistakes via both solicited and unsolicited feedback, but find ways to provide themselves with needed feedback?
But, aren’t we simply “too close to the situation” to see things objectively?
Indeed, that’s a challenge. And, it can be overcome through the use of reverse visualization, or instant-replay.
You may recall a post suggesting we can prepare for potential interpersonal conflicts by simulating them first in our mind. This is much the same way an astronaut simulates future missions? This so that – when eventually in-flight – they have already experienced the situation. 100 percent effective? No, but pretty close.
Now, let’s do just the opposite. How did you handle that difficult interpersonal situation? Or, the objections during your one-on-one sales presentation? Or, the challenging question from the committee-member during your group presentation? Were you able to make the person feel comfortable by being tactful and kind, while still effectively and persuasively communicating your point? Or, did you kind of fumble that one?
Not sure? Then do what they do in football (U.S.); go to the replay. See if it was a fumble or if you handled it cleanly? Did you have both feet in-bounds when you made the catch? Or did your big toe hit the chalk?
Check it out; study it; dissect it. The trick is to do so with as much honestly and as little emotion as possible; focusing on not letting your ego take over. Yes, it can be difficult. Make that…very difficult. And, it’s well worth it.
The next step is to take your findings to your coach or mentor, or whomever you trust to provide you with the helpful and honest feedback you need. Even better is if they were actually there, but it’s not totally necessary.
Final step: Once you’ve determined that you did handle the situation improperly, and if the context is such that you can offer an apology, do so. It goes without saying to not make any excuses; simply apologize.
Actually, there is one final step after that: regardless of whether an actionable item such as an apology was feasible, make the decision to learn from your mistake and – hopefully – not repeat it. If you’re like I am, you most likely will repeat it until you have the lesson learned. Then again, that’s part of what being human is all about.
Fortunately, we can always go back to the replay.