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Assume the Best

I have always been a defensive person. Growing up, you couldn’t tell me anything, especially if you were related to me. You could tell me that grass is green and my natural reaction would be to find a reason how that’s not completely correct. I’ve mostly left the childlike tendency to argue fact in the past, but my defensive nature has found other ways to manifest itself, mostly in the form of accepting feedback or constructive criticism.

As a professional speaker, feedback is paramount to my growth and the success of my career. I fully believe that. Even when I make an effort to seek out feedback from those I trust, I have to fight my innate tendency to get defensive.

No matter your title in life, be it speaker, accountant, husband, wife, student, or best friend- our ability to accept criticism is directly correlated with our ability to improve.

Those that accept feedback grow.

Said differently by a mentor of mine, “If you’re green you’re growing, if you’re ripe you're rotten.”

So, as a defensive person, how can I make this process easier? How can I ensure I actually accept criticism for the sake of growth and not just to seem as if I care about others opinions? For me it comes down to what I assume about the person delivering the feedback.

If someone is giving me feedback, whether solicited or not, I always try and assume the best. It’s as simple as that. If we assume they‘re focusing on the negative, or just want to hear themselves talk, or that “they think they could it better,” we’re missing out on potentially growth-giving information and perspective.

EVEN IF that person is giving that feedback from a pompous or selfish perspective, assuming the best helps us find the gold amongst the grime.

We live in a world where feedback is given on our lives, often whether we ask for it not. How we parent, how we speak, what we wear, how we do our job. It can be annoying, frustrating, and sometimes outright wrong. We can stand in our pride and assume people are trying to tear us down. Or we can adopt an attitude of growth and humility and assume the best.


Make a point to ask three people for feedback on one area of your life this week.


What area of your life are you most proud of? Your family? Your work? Your intellect? Your health? When was the last time you sought out feedback in that area?


“Examine what is said and not who speaks.” – African Proverb

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