What’s your childhood experience of taking criticism?
Think back, do any of these sound like situations you were criticised in?
Shouted at for breaking something or making a mess
Laughed at for not ‘being cool’ or not achieving at school
Labelled on your school report as lazy or disruptive
Undermined for your ideas and dreams
These first experiences of negative feedback can really affect how we take criticism in the future.
I remember my older brother (by 5 years) being really told off several times by my Dad. That memory was enough to make me desperately want to avoid being shouted at by him and to not take criticism well all my life.
We often interpret criticism as being a rejection of us as a person rather than a criticism of a particular behaviour or action.
Or we may think we’re being personally labelled rather than being given feedback on our behaviour. For example; being criticised for not delivering on time comes over as ‘you’re not good enough and you’re disorganised’ rather than what you did was not good enough and disorganised.
How do you react to criticism?
Get angry and defensively argue back, do you feel the need to be right or to get your own back?
Think it’s unfair and that you’re always being blamed, but rather than arguing back, act as if you’ve taken it on board? Then later subtly let your anger out in little comments and barbs
Agree that you’re at fault and apologise profusely, whilst feeling you can’t help it if you’re not good enough
You may use some or all of these approaches and the key thing to notice is that in all of them the person doesn’t appear to have really listened and clarified what the criticism is really about.
4 Secrets to Taking Criticism Confidently
Listen carefully to determine whether you believe the criticism is fair and true,. Ask clarifying questions if necessary.to make your decision
Agree with the criticism, for example; “yes I did make a mess of that piece of work”. But try, to avoid over apologising or promising to radically change. Instead, think about how you could together negotiate a change. “I agree that I should have spoken up for you in that meeting, how could we ensure I feel comfortable to do it next time?”
When the criticism is untrue it becomes more tricky as there’re our memories of when we were a child and couldn’t speak up reinforcing our feelings. Plus if you’ve left criticism unchallenged in other situations then that is there too. Again the first step is to listen and clarify what is being said
If you feel unfairly criticised then it’s important to speak up rather than accept the criticism and feel resentful. You can do this with phrases like:
I really must disagree with you, that wasn’t my responsibility, so lets discuss where the problems came from
I’m really surprised you think that, can you explain how you got that impression?
Even if the criticism you receive is badly given, unjustified or given with a negative intention. You can still respond in an effective way, which allows you to speak up for yourself and maintain your relationship with the other person.
Criticism is a sensitive subject for most people and if you struggle to assert yourself when you receive it, do contact me for some support. You can book a free call at www.speakwithjo.
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When a client says “I need help with being more assertive” I’m always interested to find out about their current communication style.
Because what I’ve found is that we generally fall into one of four different communication behaviours.
I’ve given each communication style a descriptive name – which one/s do you resonate with?
She’s highly competitive and needs to prove her superiority
She over reacts verbally and possibly physically
She doesn’t realise how intimidating she is as people resent her but don’t usually speak up to her
She’s very passive and rather than speak up will opt out, avoid or run away when she’s uncomfortable
She has a victim mindset blaming others and situations rather than taking responsibility for her choices and decisions
She puts herself down and can be draining to others
She doesn’t speak up but is aggressive indirectly
She needs to control others and plays on their guilt to avoid rejection
She seems very nice but you can soon feel uncomfortable around her
She respects both herself and others
She accepts her strengths and weaknesses and takes responsibility for her actions
She’s not reliant on others approval so responds authentically
Do you recognise yourself and others in these descriptions?
To demonstrate how the different personalities might behave in a situation here’s an example:
Imagine you’ve come home late from a long day at work. Everyone’s at home, your husbands on the sofa watching tv and your kids are absorbed in various devices. The kitchen’s a mess and the tea hasn’t been started yet. How would you react?
Aggressive Amy – would blow her top shouting about how unfair it is and how lazy they are. She’d refuse to make tea and everyone would be upset and angry
Doormat Dawn – wouldn’t say anything but would mutter to herself about how they always take her for granted. Then she’d clear up and make the tea feeling like a martyr and swallowing her resentment
Manipulative Mary – also wouldn’t speak up but would show her anger indirectly through body language and slamming things. She’d clear up and make tea, either very simply or very late
Assertive Amy – would speak up calmly and firmly about how she felt and ask specifically for the help that she needed from them all
Can you see how the first three caused conflict and resentment but also didn’t actually ask for any help?
Amy’s assertive response, however, was to say how she felt, without blaming and to give specific details of what she’d like to happen.
It’s quite normal to move from one style to another in different situations. However, the Assertive Amy communication style is the most likely to avoid conflict and resentment and maintain a good relationship.
If you’d like to find out more about being assertive and communicating with confidence. Then just reply to this email or book a free Discovery Call with me at www.speakwithjo.com
Live confidently and courageously,
Background credit to Anne Dickson ‘A Woman In Her Own Right’
Before I talk about the ways in which women sabotage themselves at work. I want to make it clear that there are multiple reasons why women are held back in their career. Their own mindset is only one of them.
It’s also true that of all the clients I have worked with across the world, I’ve yet to find one who doesn’t self-sabotage in some way.
Your personal challenges may be subtle or more substantial but they will be having an impact on your career success.
From my work with clients and the research that I’ve done. I have identified the 3 most common ways in which women sabotage their career potential.
Do you resonate with any of them?
Striving for perfection – When we strive for perfection we are setting ourselves up to fail and because failure is one of our biggest fears, it can lead to procrastination. Whether it’s delivering a report to a perfect level or not speaking up because you aren’t 100% sure you’re right. Perfection is a mirage so let it go.
My tip is: to strive instead for excellence, which means outstanding or very good and is far more realistic than perfection
Fear of being a bragger – if you expect to be recognised for your hard work and delivery alone I’m afraid it’s going to be very unlikely. These days you also need to demonstrate confidence, impact and visibility as well. That means sharing your successes both internally with your seniors and peers and also externally in the industry.
My tip is: find an authentic and comfortable way to talk about your successes. This could be sharing your learning from a success collaboratively with colleagues and your boss. Or sharing team wins and your role in it on social media.
Not taking a risk – Research has shown that women are more risk-averse than men. We need to be nearly 100% sure before we decide to take a risk. Whether it’s the decision to apply for a promotion or volunteer for a project, don’t let your self-doubts mean you miss out on opportunities.
My tip is: when your mind is spinning with self-doubts and indecision, that isn’t the time to make a decision. Instead, wait until your mind is clear and calm and listen to your own intuition/wisdom/wellbeing and you’ll know what to do.
I have helped hundreds of women overcome the sabotage habits that hold them back and I’d love to share some strategies with you.
You can book a free Career Breakthrough call with me where we’ll identify 3 steps you can make that will have a huge impact on your career. You can go straight to my online calendar at www.speakwithjo.com and book your call now.
It may be controversial to say this, but I really believe, that right now you have all the self-belief you’ll ever need.
Self-belief is described as having confidence in your own abilities and judgement. So you’re probably thinking, how can she say I have all the self-belief I ever need when I still doubt myself at work, as a parent or in relationships?
The reason I believe this is because we’re all born with the same levels of self-belief; you never see a baby needing therapy do you?
Then as we go through life and experience negative situations we get caught up in unhelpful thinking that hides our natural self-belief.
Rather than trying to boost your self-belief with affirmations or positive thinking, I suggest we just need to get back in touch with that hidden confidence and self-worth.
What can I do when I doubt myself?
Having self-doubts and questioning yourself is completely normal and all of us feel it sometimes. Perhaps you recognise yourself in some of these statements?:
Can I really do this?
What will people say if I do or don’t do this?
Other people are better/cleverer/ thinner than me
I don’t want to start it if I’m going to fail
People like me don’t get success
If you hear your inner critical voice saying similar negative things or questioning your abilities then remember:
The words you’re hearing and the feelings they give you are just thoughts. They’re very unlikely to be true and you don’t have to engage with them or act on them.
You aren’t broken you don’t need to be fixed
The voice you hear isn’t your true voice, they’re just thoughts you can’t control, so don’t give them power
Your inner critical voice doesn’t define you and shouldn’t be used to label you such as; I’m shy, I’m stupid or I’m not good enough
As we get less caught up in our unhelpful thinking, we get more in touch with our self-belief and start to be braver, more resilient and to accept ourselves as we truly are. Then you’ll realise you’ve got all the self-belief you’ll ever need.
That’s a mindset I’d love to have, what about you?
If you’d like to find out how you can get back in touch with your self-belief and confidence then you can book a free call with me. We’ll discuss your current situation, what you’d like to achieve and I’ll give you some suggestions on how to move forward.
I work with both career women and entrepreneurs and almost all of them tell me they have a fear of failure.
The source of the fear does vary such as “I might appear stupid” or “I’m not good enough”. But for both groups of women, the feeling can be paralysing and cause procrastination.
That can then lead to us playing small, not moving out of our comfort zones and not taking up new opportunities.
If you’d like to conquer your fear of failure then I have 4 proven secrets to share with you.
Stop running films in your head.
This type of thinking is known as ‘what if’ thinking. When we play films in our mind about the possible catastrophes that could happen. The mind doesn’t distinguish between reality and our thinking.
The mind doesn’t distinguish between reality and our thinking. Instead, decide if there is anything you can do to prevent the worst possibilities. If not then let go of the film because it’s out of your control. Distract yourself or focus on what are the positives that could happen.
Surprisingly the students asked to be positive about the week had less energy and achieved less during the week than the control group.
This demonstrates that just thinking positively isn’t enough to achieve the outcomes we want. Research has shown that the best outcomes are created when we balance positive thinking with visualising the future obstacles and struggles we will encounter.
Have a go at visualising a situation in which you are afraid of failure. Imagine yourself now hitting an obstacle, allow yourself to feel the fear, and then see yourself carrying on anyway. Finally think about how you could overcome these obstacles, then see yourself succeeding despite these obstacles.
Separate Yourself From The Failure
When you’ve failed in the past, did you make it about you or the situation? It’s important to take responsibility for our actions, but that doesn’t mean we are the failure. It’s much healthier if you can separate you and your beliefs about yourself from what actually happened.
For example, making a mistake in a project doesn’t mean you’re stupid or not good enough. It just means you made a mistake and can learn from the mistake next time.
Feel The Fear (And Do It AnyWay!)
Even if you use the 2 secrets above you may still have the feeling of fear and because we don’t like to feel uncomfortable it can stop us moving forward.
Rather than doing something to get rid of the feeling, try sitting quietly with the sensations and deep breathing. Or imagine you’re sitting outside yourself observing what you’re doing. Then you’ll find the feeling dissipates by itself and the bodies natural calm returns.
Having realised that the fear is transitory you’ll feel more confident to take action next time.
Sunday evening dread is that feeling that pulls you down after a relaxing or exhilarating weekend.
You’ve had about 49 hours since leaving work at 5 pm on Friday. As the countdown to Monday morning begins do you get a sinking sensation in your stomach at the pending new work week?
Perhaps you’ve got to have an uncomfortable conversation with someone at work or complete an overdue project. Maybe it’s just the repetitive predictability of the week ahead that’s affecting you.
Whatever it is, you’re not on your own. In a survey by Monster.com 75% of those taking part 78% said they’d experienced these ‘Sunday Night Blues’ and 47% said they had them really badly and regularly.
Is there anything I can do about Sunday evening dread?
Yes, there definitely is. Remember that it’s not the actual job or situation that’s making you feel anxious, because you’re not actually there. It’s the thoughts you’re having about it that are creating the feelings.
So those thoughts aren’t coming from the outside in but from the inside out. Knowing that it’s just thoughts you’re having in your mind that are creating your discomfort and that those thoughts will pass can dilute their power. When new thinking comes up, those feelings disappear.
If you prefer a more practical approach, try these:
Plan something enjoyable for the week. This can counter balance the negative feelings you’re having and give you something else to focus on
Set boundaries around working or answering emails during the weekend. This allows you to recharge properly to face the week ahead
Do something relaxing and inspiring. Some time in the outdoors can be relaxing and reading or listening to music inspiring.
Plan ahead. Make some time every Friday afternoon to plan for the next week so you are ready to go on Monday morning
I hope that helps to dissolve some of those stressful feelings and as always if you’d like to talk about your career options or confidence challenges you can book a call on my online calendar at www.speakwithjo.com
What do I mean by ‘nice’ girl conditioning? Well, it’s the conditioning we get as children from our parental upbringing, schooling and societies stereotypes.
Do you remember when you were small being told to be a good girl, to be polite, put others first and not disagree or upset people?
Good manners are important and understandable but add to that the focus on girls at school to be well behaved, achieve good results and fit in. Plus societies stereotyping of women’s soft and nurturing behaviours. It’s not surprising we find it uncomfortable to speak up for our opinions and needs.
I’m generalising, you may have had a very different experience but I certainly resonate with this focus on pleasing others.
In a lot of situations, these behaviours are our strengths – friendships, nurturing a family, building relationships at work. However, in a lot of workplace cultures, they can be a ball and chain that holds you back.
When you’re assertively asking for support or you’re disagreeing with a seniors opinion, having ‘nice’ girl conditioning can make you uncomfortable and even prevent you from speaking up.
If you want to tell a friend they’ve upset you or you’d like to do something different together, again ‘nice’ girl conditioning can hold you back.
How Do I Change My ‘Nice’ Girl Conditioning?
Understanding where you’ve picked up these behavioural beliefs from is a start. Then clarifying exactly what the beliefs are. Is it that you should put others first or that you shouldn’t talk about your achievements. Or that you should respect your elders and betters?
Once you know your personal rules you can either challenge them, ignore them or put in place boundaries for when you’re happy to break them.
If you heard your colleagues whispering would you assume it’s about you? When your boss is in a bad mood do you worry it’s something you’ve done wrong? Then I’m sure you’re aware that you’re taking things personally .
One of the reasons we do this is because understandably, we are often at the centre of our world.
We see experiences, situations and others from our own perspective. We look at the world through the googles of our own thinking at that moment.
So it’s not surprising that we get hurt by others behaviours or angry when things don’t go our way. When people behave towards us with a lack of respect as we perceive it, then we feel undervalued and unworthy. Ask yourself the question though, is it really about me?
If you imagine standing next to a colleague whilst you get your coffee and making small talk, but you’re getting very little response or eye contact. Would you feel hurt and rejected at their rudeness or would you just think they’re having a bad day?
What if a client calls you and is aggressive and demanding, would you feel offended and disrespected or would you be curious about what was going on in their world?
Sometimes it is something we’ve done that upsets someone else. Perhaps we’ve made a mistake and they are angry and annoyed. Then it must be personal, or is it really? Is the magnitude of their reaction all down to what we did? Actually, it says more about their personal thinking, experiences and current situation.
How do you stop immediately taking things personally?
Remember that everyone is doing the best they can with the thinking and resources they have. If someone is rude or disrespectful it usually means they’re in emotional pain.
Lose your expectations. This doesn’t mean lowering your standards but you will be disappointed if you expect people to behave in the way you think they should
To other people, you’re a small pieceofa much bigger jigsaw. You might never get to see the picture on the jigsaw but you can be sure it’s not centred around you.
Value yourself. Rather than focusing on what other people think of you spend your energy on taking care of you with self-compassion and speaking up for your thoughts and wants
If you’d like to have a chat about taking things personally or other confidence challenges, then you can book a free call with me on my online calendar at www.speakwithjo.com
Sophie had been taught by her parents, teachers and society to be a ‘nice girl’. To be polite, treat others well and avoid upsetting anyone. As a result, she received lots of positive feedback from those she was kind to.
But Sophie’s self-worth became linked to those compliments and as she reached her mid-30s she realised that her good nature was being taken advantage of.
Colleagues would dump work on her, her family expected her to listen to all their problems and she was stuck in a relationship where she felt unappreciated.
It was at this point that Sophie started to work with me and we discussed her need to set personal boundaries. To value herself in a way that didn’t rely on other people’s feelings and behaviours towards her.
You can set personal boundaries around any area of your life. They could be about your thoughts and feelings, your physical space, your friends and social life and your spiritual beliefs.
If you haven’t had a significant adult who role modelled personal boundaries, setting them can feel uncomfortable.
So, I’ve listed 3 ways you can start to discover yours:
Think about the different types of boundaries I’ve listed above. Try to recall situations where you’ve felt discomfort, anger, resentment or frustration with someone. This is usually because one of your limits have been crossed.
Identify the boundary that you would need to put in place to avoid these feelings again. For example; you’re not happy to ‘bad mouth’ other friends or you’re not prepared to have your parents every Xmas when your siblings don’t help. Which relationships in your life would this boundary apply to? Friends, colleagues, family, partner or strangers?
When you feel someone is about to cross your boundary, speak up assertively. There’s no point in having boundaries if you don’t respect them. Be polite but firm and rather than blaming the other person use ‘I’ statements like; I feel, I need, I don’t, I believe.
“I don’t feel it’s fair to talk about X when we don’t know her side”
“I would like us to take it in turns to have our parents at Xmas”
When you’re changing your mindset or behaviour it does take time and practice to embed. I suggest you identify one boundary at a time and challenge yourself to speak up if it gets crossed. Don’t feel guilty though, because respecting yourself is not the same as being selfish.
You’ll find that people may be surprised at your new behaviour but will respect you for having boundaries and what a boost it gives to your self-worth!
According to research, workplace bullying is four times more likely than sexual harassment at work and is an issue for both men and women.
The problem with bullying in the workplace is it’s not always easy to identify. When a colleague of mine made comments that I perceived as undermining and hurtful. I couldn’t decide if I was being oversensitive or if they really were out of order.
Another colleague’s reaction when I told her about the comments was, don’t worry we all know he’s difficult, so I tried to brush his behaviour off.
I, like lots of women, was conditioned to be nice,
not to upset others or make a scene. That is why women tend to dismiss or ignore belittling behaviour
The #metoo movement has made great changes for sexual harassment so perhaps this is the perfect time to stand up against workplace bullying as well?
Going back to my story, I was fortunate not to see this colleague every day as he was based elsewhere in the country. We did, however, have regular contact as we worked on the same project.
His intimidating behaviour and derogatory comments really knocked my confidence and I began to dread his calls and visits. My performance at work was affected and I felt anxious and demotivated.
Eventually, I had the courage to take my problem to my boss. His response really surprised me; as he said I needed to stand up to the person myself. Not what I’d been expecting or hoping he’d say!
It took me a day to build up my courage then, with my stomach churning and hands shaking I called him.
“John*, I’m really enjoying working on this project. At times though, I feel that you don’t respect my contributions and value. I find the comments you make such as;………. hurtful and unprofessional”
John was clearly shocked and the call quickly ended. In the moments afterwards I was hit by a sense of guilt, but that was soon replaced by a feeling of strength and power at having spoken up and having my voice heard.
What happened next?
I’d love to say John changed overnight and we became best friends, but in reality, our working relationship did improve and the hurtful comments dramatically reduced.
If you’re struggling with a workplace colleague I’d urge you to do something about it. If it’s upsetting you and your effectiveness at work then do tell someone, HR, your manager or a colleague.
The key thing I took away from my experience of workplace bullying is that there’s nothing more powerful than standing up for yourself and having your voice heard.
If you’d like to have a chat with me about this or other confidence issues, you can book a free Confidence Breakthrough Call at www.speakwithjo.com