Seems like it is the little things that can derail us. We could be having a wonderful day and then the slightest thing could make a muddle of the entire day. Somebody could be expressing their concern or just trying to get some feedback on something they have been working on and then…BAM… you just went from good day to bad day in a split second.
Why is that? Why is it that people can turn on a dime. I think it comes down to fixating and not being able to just let things go. When we are able to just take events and criticism in stride and just shrug it off is the necessary feedback we get as a part of our daily walk through life, then we are more apt to roll with the punches. Being flexible in our thinking and being able to just accept the gift of the feedback and then move on can be one of the best skills we can cultivate.
How do we cultivate that kind of attitude? I think we start by looking at the situation itself and ask ourself to just consider the other persons point of view. It could be that they just want to express themselves, get some feedback or just get you ready for an upcoming conversation. They are not necessarily trying to attack you, but just need to have a sounding board.
Another mindset can be to just look at the situation as if you were an observer. For example, if somebody is criticizing something you have worked on for days or even months and do not realize how much effort has gone into it, but instead rips it apart and then goes on to demean you, you could react in any number of ways, but the best approach for you may be to, in your mind, pretend you are a scientist collecting data.
Just sit back and listen to the tirade and make notes. You are observing the phenomenon and when they have finished you can take those notes and either completely ignore them, or have them be part of the feedback that will improve your work. Chances are you may do a little of both.
Using just these two approaches, sitting in their place and being an observer, can help you distance yourself from the situation emotionally and help you be more objective and ultimately a better leader and producer.
The image, titled “Smooth Sailing”, was taken by “Damian Gadal”. You can find it on flickr.