My Blog

By Helen Jamieson

Self harming self criticism

11 February

Pointing at worried womanWomen I talk to often say they are their own worst critics. It’s true, I have seen it time and time again and I bet you’ve done it too! But are there long term consequences of being so self critical?

One of the problems is that many women would, if pushed, say that being self critical is actually an admirable trait. One they are quite proud of. That self criticism results in greater self awareness and a constant focus on self improvement and development.

While this may be partly true, there is a serious downside. At the end of the day, all criticism can be destructive and undermining.

How often do women walk out of meetings and say to colleagues “I was brilliant in that meeting wasn’t I?” Far better if we wish to perpetuate our ‘competent, but demure’ image to say “I thought that went quite well, what do you think? I wish I’d brought those other reports with me to show them and I should have pushed back more when they were asking about the business infrastructure…”

I notice that however good we are, we women always think we could have done better. Long term, this can be damaging.

Imagine if any praise you ever gave to a member of your staff was tempered with a reference to what they could have done better or differently. The message given would be whilst they are good, they are not quite good enough. Inevitably over time you will erode their confidence. You might even get a reputation for never being satisfied, for never being truly pleased with anyone’s work.

So if you don’t do this to your staff, why do it to yourself?

Having a positive and confident approach to life and work
Being able to give ourselves real praise when praise is due, is critical if we wish to succeed and enjoy our successes. So here are my three rules to ensure we all increase our self praise and also reduce the constant self criticism.

  • Praise – give yourself praise for every job well done. And once you have congratulated yourself DO NOT be tempted to then add “but I could have…”
  • Stop hiding – don’t hide your brilliance or pretend you are an average performer. Be proud of what you do and what you have achieved and tell people! However uncomfortable that makes you feel.
  • Encourage – make sure you encourage other women to do the same. The more you notice other women undermining themselves or not promoting themselves, the more you’ll realise how much such behaviours can restrict our careers and damage our self confidence.

Are you your own worst critic? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Please leave them in the comment box below. Please feel free to like and share this blog!

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