Here’s a *great* article on responding to criticism from the brilliant folks at Vital Smarts (they wrote Crucial Conversations and related books that I use every day with my clients and highly recommend). The author’s advice applies as well if you substitute “mother-in-law” with sister, brother, mom, dad, son, daughter, co-worker, boss, employee… Get the idea?
The author starts brilliantly with this:
“Why does what your mother-in-law think of you matter? Why do you crave her approval? I ask that question without judgment. It is okay that her opinion matters. We are social animals. Connection to others matters. Therefore, the opinion of others matters. But what if you shifted your thinking and understood that her approval of you is hers to give, not yours to earn? Whether she gives it or not is about her, not you. How would that thinking shift your relationship with her?”
The more we can master this once simple (but not easy) concept that someone’s approval of you is not in your hands – and that’s OK! – the more empowered we will be. Most people are constantly running after approval. It’s exhausting.
And although this article is about a responding to criticism in a personal relationship, of course the principles apply in business too. I often help my small business consulting clients work through a conflict they are having with an employee or other business partner. Being able to work through conflicts successfully is a master key for business owners. The first step is being willing to communicate. This article lays out a good step by step plan for that conversation.
Good luck, and let me know how it goes!