Self Development

Bringing the Negativity of Criticism Concepts Full – Circle

Author: Dr. Buddy Thornton

Criticism is such an ugly word. It creates visions of influential power dynamics where a party can change the actions of another by castigating some result or attribute. In the business world, criticism is a tool of autocratic environments that should become an archaic concept relegated to the past where it belongs. Understanding criticism in its base form is to understand it is a visible reminder of rigid, controlling societies. So, as a cultural artifact, criticism must evolve into an acceptable construct to be dealt with in any sense of reality.

Why is it an ugly, unacceptable concept? Different authors have tried to extend positive attributes to the term. “Constructive” criticism is the most often portrayal. Without additional context, all criticism is still harmful and demeaning to the recipient. Following is an evolved representation of what “criticism” should be.

Consider feedback cycles. Feedback may be an inherent part of any communication process and may be requested or offered without solicitation. In either case, the key component is the cyclical nature of the feedback. In genuine growth environments, the recipient may request clarification of points included in the feedback and expect to gain guidance to finding the correct path forward. In the strongest sense, the feedback cycle only suggests potential action, leaving the recipient to process and act, or not act, upon the suggestions. In a positive dyadic relationship environment, feedback cycles are the norm, and criticism is absent. But what happens when criticism is the norm?

Criticism in every form has two universal attributes. One, criticism creates barriers. Even in contexts where the recipient chooses to set aside emerging feelings of belittlement or victimization, the neurological response is the creation of intrinsic long-term memory of the event. The memory will include the causative agent and the painful emotions.

Memory, according to contemporary research, utilizes a dual track for all sensory inputs, then chooses how to frame the data. Some things are reduced to short-term memory or even ignored, but genetically-driven defense mechanisms store sensory inputs that are deeply visceral or create pain in the long-term memory area of the cortex as a prime for triggering a future action potential. Every case of criticism outside the context of feedback loops fits into this barrier paradigm.

The second universal response is how criticism triggers the fight or flight scenario. If the criticism is warranted but given in a perceived negative way, the recipient rapidly chooses to rebut the information or bury it as a future concern. The fight response aligns with the action potential trigger the genetically-driven defense mechanism creates as primes. The reverse, flight, occurs when the criticism is so demeaning the recipient chooses to retreat from the environment, often permanently.

Dealing with criticism is a personal choice. The optimal choice is to shift the criticism into a feedback cycle. The recipient chooses to endure the negative emotions to create a self-directed learning environment. The process requires avoiding confrontation with the person who delivered the criticism until anger subsides and critical processing of how to proceed occurs. The next steps are like a decision matrix with “go/no-go” action points. Request more information on the criticism with the stated intent of self-improvement with guidance over time. If a “go” is the response, offer to do the legwork, go the extra mile, and reaffirm this is so you can learn from the other party. If it is a “no-go,” refer to the universal attributes and decide the next step.

The “go” scenario can be very invigorating. By embracing the criticism as the trigger for your positive action plan, you invest in how to convert criticism into a feedback cycle, a skill set with infinite utility throughout your lifetime. One hidden attribute is seeing the destructive nature of criticism and using that knowledge to offer feedback cycles as your action path when you need to admonish someone else’s behavior or results. Being perceived as a “positive social change agent” instead of an insulting, demeaning person demonstrates you can address the action failures you discern in your environment while simultaneously enhancing the person(s) involved through engaging feedback cycles.   

Self Development

Mindful Parenting Today’s Smart and Fast Children

Who told parenting is easy? It seems easier to beget a child than to bring them up. Each and every day with a child is challenging. Children get influenced by the smallest of the small, trivial behaviours like how they interact and treat each other, how parents interact with them, etc. Parents are the first role model to children. So, literally, parents themselves should be what they want their children to be. With the new generations becoming increasingly arrogant and questioning, mindfulness helps parents to have a peaceful and a matured relationship with their children.


Mindfulness is a method and a path propagated by the Buddha. Mindfulness simply means to live in the present moment and go through it without allowing the emotions to lead us into any irreversible action in a haste. Mindfulness emphasizes on recognising the emotion and letting it go. Buddha taught thus to prophesize mindfulness in everyday life – ” The pastis already gone; the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live, and that is the presentmoment.”

For example, while brushing in the morning, it is highly possible that we are mechanically moving our hand with our mind somewhere else in the office or thinking of children’s school or thinking of children’s homework, etc. We often are not in that moment brushing teeth, at least not mentally present there right in the bathroom. Buddha meant just this – be in the bathroom both physically and mentally while brushing your teeth thinking which all the teeth you have brushed and which not, if you have rinsed your mouth properly and so on.

There is a reason why Buddha gave this idea of mindfulness. Buddha, while getting enlightenment, found that the greatest enemy of a man is his emotions. He advocated maintaining maximum distance from emotions because they are useless. All they do is to mislead us. Emotions come to us because we connect the present event with some past event. For example, if someone comes and abuses us, the first thought that comes to us is, ” He abused me last week. He is bad. My day is all spoilt. I cannot work properly today. Seeing him makes me angry and frustrated. Huh! This is my fate. Everybody scolds me. Why does this happen to me always? ……….” 

The fact here is, we have had food which provides energy to work. We have our hands and brains to work. We get paid for our work. There are so many reasons to work. If you observe, none of the statements of the chain of thoughts is useful and every statement there is connected to a past event. Buddha strikes at the root of all this – association with past or fear of the future. Neither will the association exist, nor will the emotions come, so no pain. Pretty simple and practical, right?

Mindfulness in Parenting

Photo courtesy of Florian Gadsby

Parenting is that phase of life where we are making pots from clay. For that, we have to have skills as well as concentration to make beautiful, flawless pots. If any of these is missing, the pots may turn up flawed. It is tolerable if the lifeless pots are not made properly, not a big deal. But if children with full of life are brought up with undesired qualities, it means a lot to their lives and ours.

Children are just that – children, who are still growing, still exploring their world. They experiment everything with their parents. This may just be giving back answers, or using abusive words, or even not listening to their parents. They may have seen their peers doing this and may just be experimenting those in their own lives.

Parents will be sensitive to such changes in their children. Their first reaction will be something like this – ” I have observed you now-a-days. You are growing very arrogant. This is not right.” And this statement will be in a tone of dominating. Kids now-a-days do not like to be dominated by anybody, not even by their parents. While it is a good idea to observe changes in your kids, it is not so a good idea to connect the present moment with a past event. Each circumstance is different and need to be carefully analysed. It is here mindfulness comes to the rescue.

Instead of connecting past instances with the present one, a mindful parent is right there – in the living room, at the moment listening to the child patiently and analysing its words. This prevents emotions getting I between the child and the parent, so that the child does not fear the anger of its parent and express freely and openly how it feels and what made it to talk in such a manner. Then the parent may comfort the child and say that this is not a good way of speaking. The parent should be a model teaching the child how to talk to others. If the parent shouts, child also shouts – Newton’s third law – “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” is thus proved.

All a parent need to show is that such talking by his/her child does not make things work out with him/her.                    

How to become a mindful parent?

Buddha says, ” My path is simple but difficult.” This applies to mindfulness as well. Mindfulness is something that even a lay person can easily understand, but it is also difficult to practice. The best piece of advice will be to try to become a mindful person before becoming a mindful parent. Though there are a few advices that and Psychologists offer:

  1. Recognise what actions of your child trigger you and why – Suppose you are triggered by your child scoring less marks in the exams. The reason you find out is that you were not so academically sound when you were of your child’s age and your parents felt embarrassed by this. This itself should stop you from building the chain of your thoughts. Your childhood was way back in an era completely different from your child’s. Your parents felt embarrassed does not essentially mean that you should too. This itself will prevent your emotions coming in between.
  2. Be aware of your feelings when having a conflict with your child – Notice what all you feel when you are in a conflict with your child, if you feel angry, embarrassed, frustrated, etc. Now think that all such feelings are just like waves, they come and go. None of them are permanent. This helps your emotion pass on without much disturbance. This awareness itself checks further damage.
  3. Try to look the same situation through your child’s eye. There will be an entirely new perspective, with all the new facts flashing in your mind. For example, your child may create tantrums which does embarrass any parent. But from the child’s point of view, tantrums are a means of getting what it wants from its parents, because they have taught it, consciously or unconsciously that it is the only thing which works. Maybe you yielded to such tantrums because it was embarrassing sometime before.
  4. Practice to pause before responding to your child in anger. – Emotions are momentary and pass away in a while, reactivating your ability to judge a circumstance neutrally. So, learn to let that moment pass before reacting. This will result in a calmer mind which can clearly think. You can count backwards from ten before reacting to your child’s words.

Listen carefully to your child’s point of, even while disagreeing to it. – Children are still developing and are learning from adults around them. It is obvious they act like children and they are still learning to control their emotions.  So, we, as parents should be models to our kids (a re-emphasis) to control their emotions and be calm and patient. Even children, over a period of time, will learn to be calm and patient.

    Is this 100% practical?

While it is difficult to be 100% mindful in all the circumstance, we can always strive for being better ourselves than today. Even we are humans and we do commit mistakes. We may react like a typical authoritative parent shouting at our children or even abusing them at the heat of the moment. But it does not reduce our status to apologize our own children and convey that we really regret our actions done in a haste. After all whom do they learn such lessons from?

One last point

Everybody has only one childhood – even our kids. There is so much to enjoy, experience and learn certain things which come only in that phase of life. Let us not spoil that fun time of their lives which cannot come back with our emotions and authority. Let them play, learn and grow day by day without any pressure or hurry. Let them take their own time.



Author: Ms. Nayana M R

Leadership Self Development

Is your emotional intelligence accurate or just an act?

It is completely possible to fake emotional intelligence. Similar to fake accessories, emotions and actions can also be faked to look like the real thing but really aren’t. With the best of intentions, we can see smart leaders charge into sensitive interactions armed with what they believe a combination of deep empathy, attuned listening, and self-awareness but in real is a way to serve their own emotional needs. It is essential to learn to spot these forgeries, especially if you are the one forging it.

Research has in fact led to the documentation of manipulative misuses of emotional intelligence — the intentionally subtle regulating of one’s emotions to engineer responses from others that might not be in their best interest. Since most people are not sociopaths, the more common misuses of emotional intelligence are in fact subconscious in order to safeguard against inadvertently falling prey to them, we need deeper levels of self-examination. Here are three of the more common counterfeits that are seen snaring well-intended leaders.

Being the hero

Empathy is one of the key components of emotional intelligence. The capacity to understand and share others’ emotions creates genuine connection and deepens trust. But a leader’s genuine desire to demonstrate care can transcend healthy boundaries in unintended ways. An example being an officer who handled a potentially volatile conversation. The goal of the conversation was to agree on how he would get the project back on track. When asked how it went, he responded with exuberant relief, “Better than I could have expected.” He went on to explain he was sure to start with empathy, and when time was right, they moved into problem solving.

Over the next two hours, the conversation revealed his need to feel indispensable completely overshadowed what he actually needed: accountability, coaching, and guidance. He felt the conversation had gone well because he felt needed. The senior thought it went great because he was no longer on the hook alone. At first, he defended his intention of being a caring and compassionate leader. But eventually he was able to see that when his expression of care turned to rescue from a difficult situation, it stopped being compassionate, and became selfish. When a leader indulges a codependent need to feel central to another person’s success, it takes away the other person’s power, making them weaker instead.

When expressing empathy for those you lead, pay attention to any need you might have to be the hero. Compassionate understanding for the challenges of others is emotionally intelligent. Rescuing them from the consequences of those challenges may be more cruel than kind.

Masquerade as an active listener. 

A fundamental social skill of emotional intelligence is being an effective listener. Being attuned to the spoken and unspoken concerns of others shows a willingness to engage ideas different from ours. Most leaders believe they listen to dissenting ideas, and are willing to have their minds changed when stronger beliefs and facts are presented. But many would also admit, if they were being honest, that letting go of being right is painful.

But unaware of the tension between a genuine desire to take in others’ views and a need to be right, leaders can feign listening while actually trying to lure others to their side without realizing they’re doing it. Trying to sound conciliatory and open-minded, each would attempt to “summarize” the other’s views with statements like, “So what I hear you saying is the only way you’ll agree to those quotas is if….” and “I’m really trying to understand your view on this, given that last month you seemed to be more aligned with….” and “I sense that you’re really frustrated right now, and I’d love to find a solution that can work for both of us, if we could just agree that…” Both believed they were genuinely interested in finding a mutually acceptable compromise. But nobody in the room saw it that way and neither of them believed it about the other. If you have strong views or a critical agenda, own it. It doesn’t mean you don’t care what others think. People are more likely to believe you’re open to hearing their ideas if they feel you’ve been straightforward about where you stand on yours.

A need for approval dressed up as self-awareness. 

Self aware leaders detect how others experience them. They solicit critical feedback from others, and accurately acknowledge their strengths and shortfalls. But i fueled by an desire for approval, self-awareness can warp into self-involvement. One executive, who prided himself on his astute self-awareness, regularly asked his team for feedback, believing he really wanted it (and on some level, he probably did). But what they saw was a neurotic plea for affirmation. In a diagnostic interview, one direct-report said, “Every time he asks how I’m doing, we all know the best thing to do is just say ‘Great,’ so we can get on with our day.” Every leader is insecure about something. Genuinely self-aware leaders face that insecurity head on, and don’t put the burden of soothing it on others.

Our ability to express emotional intelligence is sometimes impaired by unacknowledged, unhealthy, emotional needs. If you want to genuinely employ effective emotional intelligence skills, pay attention to the unaddressed scars and voids lurking beneath the surface of your inner emotional landscape. Tend to those honestly and carefully, and you’ll better be able to maintain credibility and strong relationships with others.

Image Source

Self Development

Spotting A Toxic Friend

There are a number of signs you can look out for to tell if your closest friend is really your enemy.

We have learned to identify the signs of a toxic relationship and often associate them with lovers who end up causing us more harm than good. However, we tend to forget that the people closest to us and privy to every aspect of our lives, our friends, can often be incredibly toxic as well. Here are the signs to look out for:

1. Self-Absorbed

They make you feel unimportant and trivialize all your issues. Every time you tell them about yourself, they end up changing the entire conversation to revolve around them. They rarely empathize with you, and you emerge from conversations with them feeling more burdened instead.

2. Constantly Criticizing

They constantly criticize everything you do. It will eventually eat up your self-esteem and makes you start questioning your own abilities and worth. Such friends are extremely toxic because the longer you hang out with them, the greater the influence they have on you.

3. No respect for confidentiality

Such friends tell everyone the things you tell them in confidence. Some things are best kept to yourself, and a friend who is unable to respect the confidentiality of the things you say is not worth your secrets.

4. Housing bitterness for silliest things

They are unable to forgive you and nurse bitterness against you for the silliest things. They always bring up that time you forgot you were supposed to do something. It needs to be cut off.

5. Vengeful

They constantly punish you for past mistakes, no matter how many times you apologize or try to make amends. They may call you names or even go out of their way to sabotage you in revenge.

6. Controlling

These friends try to get in between you and the person you love. They spread false rumors about the two of you and even disparage your partner in front of you when they’re not around. You need to evaluate whether your friendship is more important than your love life.

7. Forceful

These people always have a tendency to decide where you go and what you do when making plans. You may not even be interested in the same things, but they make you skip something you wished to do and make you do what they love.

8. Resent your success

Resentment can manifest itself in little ways. Be it snarky comments about something you’re proud of, or hearing from other people that they were belittling your successes behind your back. If your friend isn’t cheering for you, then you’re better off without them.

9. Always need you care

Every relationship is not one of the equals. There will always be one person who is smarter, one person who is more practical, or one person who is more socially adept, and it usually balances out. However, if you find yourself constantly having to be the mature one and cleaning up after their messes, then you may need to reevaluate your friendship.

10. Always broke and irresponsible

To reiterate, friends are often on essentially equal terms. But if you’re picking up the tab after every time, or you’re always having to cover for them when you do things together, then you may need to have a conversation with them about being responsible for themselves.

11. Leave when needed

A sure sign of a toxic friendship is when you find that they’re never around when you need them. If they’re constantly canceling plans or completely unavailable in your deepest crisis, then they’re not a true friend.

12. Make you the center of their jokes

They make you the constant butt of your friend’s jokes. Often they aren’t harmless, and they can play on your insecurities or be degrading attacks on your personality, preferences, or even appearance. If you experience this more times and if it makes you uncomfortable, then you need to distance yourself.

Image Source

entrepreneurship Self Development

Delegate and Micromanage

Micromanaging has become a foul word in the corporate world. Being used by employees to describe overzealous managers, who don’t trust them to perform the simplest of tasks without constant interference.

No one wants to work for a boss who does not allow them any kind of freedom and does not want them to grow and gain experience by facing new challenges every once in a while. A superior who spends all of their time obsessed with tracking their team members’ actions is in no way making the best use of their resources.

But there are certain tasks that are essential and need to be ensured they are done correctly. In such circumstances, it’s better to think of micromanaging as opposed to delegation.

Delegating and micromanaging both have their places.

When delegating, aim for success

As business grows, tasks need to be handed over to other members of your organization. It arouses conflicting feelings. While one trusts the people they have recruited, they also wish to make sure their task is in capable hands. When deciding whether to delegate or not, assigning a task to someone who is unequipped to handle it is indeed a grievous error. If they fail, it will be damaging to their confidence, you faith and the company. One of the best strategies for avoiding such a scenario is to follow the 70 percent rule.

According to the 70 percent rule, if one believes that their employee is capable of doing the work at least 70 percent as well as them then it is beneficial to delegate it to them. Experts say that once one decides to delegate, it is vital not to challenge the trust they have placed in them by letting the instinct to micromanage creep in.

Allows employees to embrace new challenges

Delegating tasks to employees becomes a vital as the demands on time rise. But if one has the time to work on everything by themselves only, then probably delegating is not advised.

Employees are satisfied when they are given new challenges that allow them to expand their skill set in fresh and remarkable ways. One is far more likely to retain an employee if they are satisfied with their job. Employee retention has important consequences on both the bottom line and business culture.

Asking employees to take on new responsibilities is a cost-effective way of assisting them with professional development. They will have opportunities to learn things that will make them more versatile contributors and the company will reap the benefits of said versatility.


There are tasks that are critical to the survival of the company, such as hiring, raising capital and pursuing an acquisition, then one should make sure that they take control of the project themselves.

Ultimately, the job as CEO is to focus on thing that they can do better than everyone else, which will facilitate the performance of the team and allow taking the company to new heights. Distractions from this one thing by delegating tasks that could easily be performed by others should be avoided. It is essential to understand that delegating and micromanaging are both important skills for any leader to master.

Image Source