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Emotionally Intelligent People Use a Simple 3-Word Phrase to Completely Change How They Deal With Criticism

By Justin Barison for Inc….

How do you respond to criticism?

If you’re in a position where you have to lead others, you’re going to get criticized. Sometimes, that criticism will be valid. Other times, it will be unjustified. But in either case, the criticism is valuable–because it gives you a window into how others see you and your leadership style.

The problem is, typically when we receive criticism, we process this as an attack–leading to a fight, flight, or freeze response. Additionally, with the pressure to move at speed in today’s business world, it’s difficult to slow down and process any critical feedback we receive.

So, how can you gain control of your emotions and transform criticism into a positive?

A good friend once shared an invaluable technique with me, and I’ve used it generously throughout the years. Whenever he felt himself getting defensive because of what someone said or did, he’d repeat the following three-word phrase to himself:

Don’t feel attacked.

This phrase is simple, but it can drastically increase your ability to take advantage of criticism.

Let’s break down why these three words are so valuable, and how it can improve your emotional intelligence, your ability to understand and manage emotional behavior.

Don’t feel attacked

The main reason this phrase is so useful has much to do with the way our brains process negative feedback.

When someone criticizes you, your work, or your leadership style, your first reaction is an emotional one. Scientists say much of this reaction is controlled by the amygdala, the little almond-shaped part of your brain that jumps into action when you feel attacked.

This “amygdala hijack” isn’t always harmful, but under the wrong circumstances, it can cause us to say and do things we later regret–and to handle situations poorly.

But when you force yourself to take a pause, and repeat those three words “Don’t feel attacked,” you hack the hijack. You slow down and engage other, more rational parts of your brain, like the frontal lobe–the part that is responsible for such higher-level cognitive processes as analyzing and problem-solving.

Of course, this doesn’t come easy. But with effort, you can train yourself.

For example, after you tell yourself to not feel attacked, you can then tell your conversation partner something like this:

“Ok, thank you for sharing this for me. This isn’t easy for me to hear, so please give me a day to process it and I’ll come back to you.”

For the rest, click here.

Free Stock photos by Vecteezy

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