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Senior Correspondent

Alternate title: “Critics: Thank’em or Spank’em”

Receiving personal criticism stands apart from criticizing products, services, or organizations.

My leadership was first criticized when I was in my early 20s. It stunned me. I still remember the sting. People who say personal criticism doesn’t hurt, lie. If you enjoy it, you’re weird or sick.

If you can’t deal with criticism, you can’t lead.

“Any fool can condemn, criticize, and complain — and most do.” Dale Carnegie

Friends propel you — enemies obstruct you:

Friends know where you’re going and help you get there. Critical-critics always want their way; correcting-friends help you find yours. Friends pull oars — enemies swing clubs.

Correction faces forward; criticism looks back.

Listen when someone says they can accelerate your success, even when it stings. Critics, however, always serve themselves not you. Critics judge you by their values not yours.

Friends correct privately — enemies criticize publicly:

Cowardly enemies criticize you when you aren’t present. They pretend to help while causing damage. They destroy relationships, question motives, and deflate morale. Friends, on the other hand, know you and secretly call you aside.

Friends sharpen — enemies dull:

Correction builds on strengths. It strengthens strengths. Criticism fixates on weaknesses while minimizing strengths. Many naturally tend to see weaknesses to fix. Fix less and sharpen more. Train yourself and your friends to sharpen your strengths and soften your weaknesses.

Beware the sweetness:

Skillful enemies pretend they care about you. The first organization I led had a sweet smiling backstabber. They seemed noble. You’ll be seduced unless you keep the end in mind. Deal with sweet enemies by asking, “Where does listening to you take me?” (That’s a useful question whenever you receive suggestions.)


What distinctions between criticizing-enemies and correcting-friends can you add?

What behaviors and attitudes do correcting-friends display?


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