How to Silence Your Critics
THE CHANGE-AVERSE CRITIC continued...
With this type of critic, there are usually two underlying issues at play —
fear and a need for control. "They're afraid of the unknown and of not
being in charge of their surroundings, so they end up projecting those fears
onto everybody else," explains Tessina. Your idea might also make this
critic realize her life isn't all she wants it to be, so she tries to hold you
back along with her.
Before you launch a defense, however, consider that she may actually be onto
something. Maybe eBay is already saturated with the same reversible
handbags you want to sell through your online boutique. Perhaps a person's
personality does change (and not always for the better) after overhauling their
look on impulse.
That's not to say that you need to give up your plans. "People make the
mistake of thinking that criticism means their intention or goal was probably
wrong or half-baked all along, and that they're obligated to stay in the status
quo," says Robert Leahy, Ph.D., director of The American Institute for
Cognitive Therapy in New York City and author of The Worry Cure.
"But those who are willing to tolerate some ambivalence and criticism tend
to be better decision makers overall. Collecting information, weighing the pros
and cons, and fine-tuning your plans are signs of thoughtfulness and
Besides, if everyone thought your idea was good or easy, there wouldn't be
any risk involved — or glory either, says Leahy. You might even want to thank
this person for her input. Her negativity has helped you take ownership of your
tenacity and willingness to explore new horizons. Come to think of it, Leahy
adds, "this critic is basically telling you that she doesn't have the guts
to do it herself." How's that for an ego boost?
THE NAY-SAYING CRITIC
Six years ago, having had enough of dead-end jobs, Laura Elizabeth decided
to follow her dream of being a writer. She began applying to writing programs
at several top universities — even though she didn't think she had the
credentials to get in. "I wanted to apply to an Ivy League school,"
says the 31-year-old from Houston. "One of my colleagues, who knew how much
I wanted this, said, 'I wouldn't waste the paper.' Where was her diplomacy?
What a way to kill my spirit."