Do You Have a Criticism Coach?

by Andy Wood on February 3, 2016

in Conversations, Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, LV Cycle, Pleasers, Principle of Increase, Words


Hello, this is Carl.

Hi Carl. A mutual friend gave me your card. Is this a good time to talk?

Sure. How can I help?

Well, I’m not sure if you can. The card says “Criticism Coach.”

Yep. That’s me.

I gotta be honest. I’ve never heard of a criticism coach.

Neither had I until the day I decided the world needed one.

So you just sort of made this up?

Well, I formalized the idea a couple of years ago. But I’ve been criticoaching for years.


Yeah, that’s my shorthand term for it. I did make that up.

What is a Criticism Coach?

So at the risk of asking a dumb question, what’s a criticism coach?

Not a dumb question at all, since you’d never heard of one. A criticism coach is a trusted advisor who can help people process their thoughts and feelings honestly, but constructively when they’ve been criticized.

Well doesn’t everybody get criticized sooner or later?

Of course. That’s why everybody needs a criticism coach. Unfortunately very few people actually have one. That’s where I come in.

So you’re like a counselor, or life coach?

Yes, in a specialized kind of way. I focus on the power of words to build up or destroy a person’s life and work. I’m not a therapist. And I don’t focus on some of the other things that life coaches cover.

Interesting. But you said very few people have a criticism coach. I find that hard to believe.

Believe it. People tend to fall into two categories. They either try to handle their critics by themselves or they turn to people who will tell them what they want to hear.

You mean like sympathy?


What’s wrong with comforting somebody?

Nothing if the situation calls for comfort. But some criticism calls for action or change, and a comforter is the last thing you need.

How it Works

Okay I’m not sure I follow. Give me an example.

Okay. Say you work in customer service for a big retailer. And you work next to a crusty old veteran – one of those Roz-types who never seems to smile. And one day she looks at you and says, “You’re never going to make it in this business. You always sound anxious and too eager to please on the phone!”

Ooh. I think I’ve met people like her. I just blow them off and consider the source.

Really? What if she’s right?

I don’t care if she is! She’s gruff and rude. She’s shaming and blaming.

Great. So you’ve been to a support group before.

That obvious, huh?

Yeah, but that’s beside the point. How has she made you feel?

Like a loser or a reject.

Okay. Now you have two decisions to make and you’ll probably make them without thinking. First decision – do you handle this yourself or rally the dysfunctional troops? By your answer you would try to handle this yourself.

Who are the dysfunctional troops?

The people who tell you what you want to hear.

You mean people who can encourage me that I actually can do the job? Again, what’s wrong with that?

Nothing – if you can actually do it. But if Roz is right then you need the courage to make some changes. That speaks to the second decision you have to make.

Which is…?

Do you deal with the feelings you have or the substance of the words? Criticism hurts. And so the temptation is to address the hurt rather than the message.

So are you just supposed to ignore the fact that somebody just took a hammer to your heart?

No, of course not. But getting angry and launching a counterattack doesn’t address the problem. And gathering up a bunch of sympathy certainly helps you feel better. But feeling better isn’t always what we need.

So if Roz said that to me and I called my criticism coach, how would you approach it?

Well first I would actually tell you how sorry I was that she was so harsh. I know that must hurt. Then I would say something like, “As far as what she actually said, either that’s true or it isn’t.”

And then what?

Then we’d actually look at the substance of the words aimed at you. What does “eager to please” look like? What’s the alternative? How does someone come across as anxious? Does that accurately describe you? If so, how can you improve in that? Where can you get training to do your work better? OR, is she right and is it time to find another line of work?

Those Evil Silent Critics

Know what I hate? The silent critics. The people who run around behind your back saying negative things about you. Then finding out from somebody who won’t tell me who is actually being critical.

Yeah, the old, “I’ve heard from several people.” Or “THEY say” – whoever “they” is.

Yeah, that just kills me. If people have a problem with me why don’t they say it to my face?

You just answered our own question. THEY have a problem.

It still hurts.

Yes, and here’s the thing… maybe they’re cowards or gossips. Or maybe you have not given them permission to speak into your life. But they may still have a point.

Or they may be dead wrong!

Exactly. That’s why you need somebody to help you process the criticism. Is it valid or not?

But if they don’t handle it the right way…

It doesn’t matter. This isn’t the legal system, where you can get off on a technicality. Your response to criticism will make or break you as you pursue your goals, try to lead people, or even work on your own personal growth and development. And frankly most people don’t respond well.

The One Thing More Dangerous than Criticism

So how did you get into this?

Feedback. People – mostly friends – kept coming back to me and asking for my feedback. They would say things like, “I need to process.” But the most common thing I heard was, “I trust you,” and “You don’t say what other people tell me.” Over time I began to realize I may have something to offer.

Which is what? Advice?

Nah, advice is cheap. I offer a safe place where for just a little while good people and destructive words can be in the same room without it destroying the person or their dreams.

And what do you do with those words?

Together we mine the truth out of them and together we destroy the lies built into them. It’s a spiritual experience for sure. It’s also something of a soul exchange.

Soul exchange?

Yes. Thoughts, feelings, and desires. That’s soul.

Okay, so you spend all day long working with clients and dealing with the criticisms they hear?

Well, yes, that’s what I do with beginners. But as the relationship matures, we come to realize that other kinds of words can be even more destructive than criticism.

Really? Like what?

Praise, actually.

Praise? As in, compliments?

Yep. Verbal nitroglycerin. The right amount can heal a hurting heart. Too much can blow things up.


Sure. Think about it. How many people do you know who were totally betrayed because the people who were praising them with their words ultimately stabbed them in the back?

Well yeah, now that you mention it.

So I work with advanced clients to hold their words loosely – to receive true encouragement because we all need that. But to make sure the encouragement isn’t masking any blind spots.

Wow. I’ll bet business is booming.

(Smiling) I stay busy. But is this just an interview? Or is there something I can specifically help you with?

Well, now that you mention it… I’m in full-time ministry.

Alrighty then. I’m sure we have plenty to talk about.

Martha Orlando February 3, 2016 at 8:13 pm

Over-the-top, right-on, and straight-to-the-heart, Andy!
I think when we honestly approach God, He can be our best-ever criticism coach. He knows we’re going to get it from others, and He is the one equipped to help us handle it with grace and love. May our faith be strong!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..All My Senior Moments

William Parsons February 5, 2016 at 5:12 am

Not yet, but I’m getting one after launching my new website.
William Parsons´s last blog post ..Master Para Emprendedores

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