As women, when someone comes to us with a problem they have with something we’ve done, we can be quite quick to take it too seriously. Our inner critic is activated and we commence a self-audit: What might we have done wrong? Where does that align with where we already believe we have rough edges? What should we have done better? We are often too quick to focus on ourselves and to turn a critical eye inward.
In fact, the complaint we are faced with might be coming from someone who is having a bad day, frustrated by their own performance, or simply lashing out. Worse still, they may have picked up on the fact we are tough on ourselves, and may be leveraging that in their favour (bullies, dark triad personalities).
Why not practise turning the hawk-eyed attention of our inner critic elsewhere? Instead of focusing it on ourselves, why not focus it outside of ourselves? Who is bringing the complaint and what do we know about them? What legitimises their complaint, and to what extent can that be corroborated? How might the system in which they operate have contributed to the problem they raise?
Good leadership and meeting our own ideals (including fairness and integrity) is not just about being willing to examine ourselves and how we might improve. It’s also about skilfully and perspicaciously judging others, and the systems and circumstances that may moderate and mediate their behaviours and actions.