Starts off with one understanding: if you don’t switch into a different mentality, it will suck.
Before we get to that though, let’s break the ice. No one and I mean no one can get through life without being corrected on something. I’m pretty sure that we can’t even get to our first birthday without being corrected on something. Keep that sentence in mind.
We face it frequently. Whether it’s every day or every week or even every month we do face it often. Often enough to know we’ll face it but not always so frequently that we’re used it. That’s part of the problem.
But the bigger part of the problem is that we don’t like to think we’re failing. I like to think that it’s about the fear of failure and less about thinking we’re perfect. Though our pride and our arrogance does play into it, for me for a long time when I was corrected the first thought/feeling that went through my mind was, “I can’t believe I did that” or calling myself dumb.
As negative as that sounds, we do turn on ourselves when we get corrected. It’s part of the reason why we snap and turn on the people correcting us. Kind of a self-defense to keep our ego intact.
But remember: we need to learn how to take correction, not how to avoid it.
And avoiding it is exactly what our ego and pride wants from us.
FIRST OF ALL (yes this must be in all caps) if this is yoga, a martial art, or really anything like this, if you are visiting somewhere or learning from someone new or receiving criticism from a new boss remember that everyone has a different set of standards. Every yoga class will be taught differently. Every martial art teacher will have a slightly different style. Every boss has their own idea of what your job looks like.
If you come into a situation like this unwilling to change or try something new, you are setting yourself up to look like a real jerk. You do not want to be the person everyone talks about later.
If you’re in this situation, anything new, keep an open mind. You do not have to adopt every suggestion you get or piece of criticism but you do need to do it for at least the duration of that class. If it’s a big issue, causing pain, stress, or is less effective than your method, politely discuss it with your boss or instructor privately.
Which brings me to my next point: if there is a problem, discuss it.
There’s absolutely no reason why taking correction needs to be a personal offense. If someone seems to be picking on you a lot, is hurting your feelings, or you feel giving unhelpful or dangerous advice, talk to them. Ask to speak privately with them, and politely bring up your concerns. Politely is the keyword here. Don’t come into a conversation ready to attack someone.
If someone is giving you a correction, more often than not they are doing it to improve what you’re doing or improve the results they are seeing. If it’s at the workplace and your boss gives you a correction, they might not be out to get you but instead think that your job should be performed a certain way and they want you to succeed. People aren’t coming in to attack you. Not all the time at least.
Still though, you may have a more efficient way to do something or you may just not like how another way is done and that’s okay. Not every suggestion is a good one. If the suggestion continues to be repeated, gently talk about it. Present your side fairly without anger. It may take some talking and development of good communication skills, but it’s not a big deal so approach it that way.
Thinking of not a big deal remember that you aren’t one.
Okay, admittedly this sounds really mean. But I take this approach with myself whenever I get really bent out of shape about a correction. I’m not a big deal. I’m not beyond taking advice. I’m definitely not better than that. No one really is but a small percentage of very experienced professionals get to limit the pool of who can criticize.
It’s important to continue to remind ourselves that we are not above correction. Not every correction is going to be the perfect thing you needed to hear today. However, you don’t have to make a big deal of it. A simple, “Thank you” or “thank you, I’ll try that” will suffice. You don’t have to fight back, in fact you shouldn’t. It’s a touch rude and uncalled for.
Last two. First of the last: do not do something that puts you at risk.
This is potentially less applicable to job situations but definitely applicable to fitness. Do not take advice if it puts your safety at risk. This is especially prevalent in yoga.
If you practice with enough teachers you will eventually find one that gives bad advice. We’ll go over some things you should never listen to no matter what. The bottom line is to know your body and know what doesn’t work for you. Don’t be afraid to say, “I can’t do that” or “That’s not safe for me” and stick to your guns.
There are some modifications I make in Aikido because I’m small. When I’m going against someone bigger, the wrong piece of advice can (and has) hurt me. It’s important to recognize what you can and can’t do. It’s equally important to try something slowly if you aren’t sure if it’s good for your body or not.
Finally, adopt a mindset.
If you’re in a position where you’re getting critiqued (I mean, we’re all there at some point) just turn off the “you” that you’re familiar with. Step into “business you” where you can objectively hear criticism and have the ability to take it to heart. This is the best way to avoid your feelings from being hurt because, well, you’re taking that completely out of the mix!
Before we go, I’d like to insert a little lesson I learned a year or so back. I’ll preface it with the fact that I work with kids a lot and my job is to teach them a complicated martial arts. For a six year old, managing your limbs, head, and hips in opposing ways is extremely hard. It’s hard enough for an adult but sometimes it almost seems like an impossible task to teach kids how to have coordination.
That means lots, and I mean lots of corrections, reframing, suggestions, games, etc. And what I learned is that kids are great, yes GREAT at taking criticism.
Well it’s not because they don’t have pride. They do, trust me they do. It’s not because they don’t beat themselves up. Because boy do they.
It’s because of two things: curiosity and exposure.
They want to know more. They want to know different ways of doing things. They want to excel. They are eager to do their best. Their pride doesn’t hinder them, it encourages them to be curious, to change, to try new things, and to listen.
That brings me to the other one. They have to listen all day. They are not autonomous. They can’t decide very much for themselves. They are in a point in their life where they have to listen, take directions, and adjust whether they want to or not.
So be like a kid. Be curious. Put yourself in a position where you have to take direction, say a workout class. Get practice with criticism and be open minded. You’d be amazed how great you’ll feel.