A Little Criticism

Taking criticism is hard. Most of us want to hear that we’re special, have great taste, and rock in everything we do. Sort of like Toddlers and Tiaras without the temper tantrums. Unfortunately, life seldom gives us blanket approval for all of our actions.

We misunderstand, we misinterpret, we think we get it, but we don’t.  The person that points out these truths  doesn’t earn our respect and thanks (not even if our underwear is tucked into our skirt or a big piece of spinach is blighting our smile). Instead, our first response is to turn on them.

Disagree with me and you’re wrong, you’re stupid, and/or you don’t understand.

How do we learn, though, if not by criticism? In education, there’s a saying that “you don’t know what you don’t know.”  We’re all blind to our faults and our weaknesses. When someone points them out to us, of course our first reaction is a big HELL NO as we put up our guard to defend ourselves and our self image from our attacker.

But, how can we get better if we don’t take advice from others?

When I went to nursing school, I knew right from the beginning that I knew nothing. It took me ten minutes to reconstitute medications. Twenty minutes to set up an I.V. Putting in a female catheter? Forever. I accepted criticism because I accepted my ignorance. I listened a lot, I read a lot, I took my lumps, and eventually I became good at my trade. But, if I had been defensive, argumentative, and convinced of my own rightness, I would have ended up a hack. I got good because of criticism.

I maintain the most dangerous people in healthcare, and the world, are those that don’t understand their limitations. They will fight to the end of time to defend their rightness. And they are wrong.

I might not always agree when people tell me I’m wrong, but I’ll listen, I’ll think, and I’ll research. Because in this big world full of information, I must accept there are people that know more than me. If I’m not willing to at least hear them out, who’s the idiot?

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