If you are a leader who never gets criticised, chances are you aren’t doing anything of note.
Ouch, but true, isn’t it?
On the other hand, if you want to accomplish something and not simply stay “under the radar” in cruise mode, be prepared to face opposition.
Just a few days ago, I had presented a proposal to my church’s council about leading a team to run a Facebook page for the church so that church-goers and seekers could stay updated on the church’s activities. Now that usually wouldn’t be much of a deal, but when your church is one that is highly traditional, conservative and generally tech-averse, and putting into context that most of the council members do not have much interest in social media, things aren’t as straightforward.
As it went, there were those who were supportive, but I also faced a barrage of feedback on my proposal. To be fair, most of it was valid, such as whether the team, carrying out this work on a part-time basis, would be equipped to handle spam, malicious comments, queries and so on.
And then, boom, I was outrightly opposed by one member, who stood up amidst the discussion and started on what I deemed a rant. He claimed that I was portraying a picture of having a Facebook page through rose-tinted glasses, only presenting the positives and ignoring the flip side of social media. That I didn’t know what I was doing by showing the council examples of Facebook pages belonging to churches that were in contrary to the culture of our church. He ended by suggesting that I went back to understand what Facebook was all about before coming back again with my proposal.
It took me a lot of composure to reply to his sharp criticism in a calm, measured fashion. And eventually, although the proposal went through, a host of restrictions were placed on this project that would make the success of harnessing social media harder.
I was taken aback by the opposition, and left shell-shocked. I was expecting some apprehension, but nothing of this scale. And let me tell you, it doesn’t feel good. For the rest of the day, the stinging words of criticism were replayed over and over in my head.
But that’s what you must come to expect when you want to step out of the comfort zone, to lead, to get something done.
And looking back, I am glad I faced such opposition, because it helped me to re-examine my motives and my pride, to reflect on whether I really wanted to do this for the betterment of the church or to fulfil my personal interest. And ultimately it strengthened my resolve.
Then, rather coincidentally, I received an email from infographic-making website Venngage, of which I was on their mailing list.
The heading read: How do you deal with negative feedback, Shawn?
It went on to show me a massive collection of answers to this question as it was asked to 57 different business leaders.
It proved to be of much encouragement to me, as I hope it would be to you as I share this list below.
How would you deal with negative feedback?