Many years ago, when I was a college professor, we had a dean who could be more than a little temperamental. Department heads would come out of meetings swearing and upset. They rarely stood up to the dean. (If you’re not familiar with academic hierarchy, deans are like directors and department heads are more like section leaders or managers.)
Our department head was an easygoing guy who had seen combat as an Air Force pilot. He used to come out of meetings whistling and he would laugh about them. He said, “This guy’s nothing compared to the flight instructors I had during my training.”
One of the strongest indicators of career success is the ability to respond to criticism, rejection and even harsh, hostile remarks, whether they’re justified or not. Some people easily let critical remarks wash over them. Others have reactions ranging from anger to depression. A few – very few, fortunately – make headlines when they respond with violence.
Dealing with criticism, along with frustration tolerance and likeability, are among the skills you rarely learn in business school, but they predict career success more than many other qualities. Yesterday’s New York Times featured on article, Learning To Love Criticism by Tara Mohr, on the way women handle criticism, nothing that women receive more personal attacks and often do not respond well to any type of critical remarks.
Mohr says, “Many women carry the unconscious belief that good work will be met mostly — if not exclusively — with praise.” Realistically, good work is often taken for granted; praise can come across as a little patronizing, even as a substitute for genuine work. For a long time managers were told that women (and many men) responded more to appreciation than to tangible rewards.
As women become stronger and men become more open about expressing feelings, perhaps some of the gender differences will become smaller or disappear altogether.
Read the article here and tell me what you think.