I often get asked how I deal with hate and unfair criticism. In my line of work as a politician I end up getting a fair share of both. It’s part of the job: the tougher the times, the tougher the feedback.
In the beginning of my career many colleagues told me that time thickens the skin. The standing joke is that a politician’s skin grows so thick that he does not need a spine.
I never believed in that. We are all sensitive to criticism, whether from friends, foes, or the public.It’s natural. The brain is linked to our soul. Positive is better than negative.
The problem is that we remember negative feedback more vividly than positive encouragement. Florida State University professor and social psychologist Roy Baumeister tells us that the brain needs five positive events to make up for one negative one.
I’m sure we can all relate to that. Positive feedback is nice. It gives you a good feeling. Negative feedback ignites the opposite emotion.
The beauty of free speech and democracy is that everyone is allowed to express themselves.A person in a position of influence must be able to tolerate criticism. Sometimes it might feel unfair, but you just have to deal with it.
So, how to do it? The first thing to understand is that you will never be able to please everyone. The more you express yourself, the more some people will criticize you and your actions. The greater your impact, the more criticism you will get.
The second thing to remember is that many haters direct their unhappiness onto others. Think about it. If you are unhappy, do you blame yourself or someone else? My natural inclination is to look at others until I find the real cause – in the mirror.
Third, the best way to fight against hate and negative feelings is to embrace them with love. This might sound naive, but I firmly believe that good will always prevail. There is more good than bad in this world. If this were not the case, then most of the news would be good.
Being negative or cynical is the easy way out. British statesman Winston Churchill famously said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
I have always been an optimist. Smile and you will be smiled at.