How to Work with Your Inner Critic
Have you ever had a thought similar to this one, “I was so unassertive. I barely contributed any valuable point. They probably think it’s because I’m young and inexperienced.”
Over the years, we’ve come up with a couple of strategies for combating the inner voice that you may hear on a daily basis:
1. Write It Down
As you can see from the example, the act of putting your inner doubts and fears on paper (or Evernote) is instantly helpful. It allows you to distinguish the rational from the irrational.
Try telling yourself phrases, such as:
“They praised the ideas I’d brought up at our last meeting.”
“Maybe I should try a ‘power pose’ before I walk in?”
If you look at all three comments together, the first is clearly non-constructive, the second reaffirms my confidence, and the third is actually a good idea.
When you have the three thoughts in front of you, you can plainly see that you should ignore the first and focus on the second and third.
2. Be Objective
When you’re unsure whether your inner critic is right or just full of it, turn to the evidence. After all, perception is often totally different from reality.
Imagine that your inner voice is saying, “Caroline (your boss) thinks you’ve been slacking slightly.” Go back to the notes from your last check-in; did she urge you to take on more assignments? Improve your work ethic? Finish projects faster?
Without objective proof, your inner critic’s statements become a lot less believable.
And if you’re still unsure, then ask. In this scenario, you’d go to your boss and say, “Hey, Caroline—I’d love to check in with you really quickly. Do you have any feedback on my recent work?”
If she doesn’t mention a perceived drop in effort, you can move on. And if she does validate your fears, then you’ve uncovered an area for improvement. Either way, the outcome benefits you.
Critically thinking about your behavior, goals, performance, and so forth isn’t bad. On the contrary, it’s necessary if you want to grow.
But it’s important to make your constructive criticism as productive as possible (note: this excludes non-constructive criticism, like the first example.).
Do this by putting your comments in the affirmative.
Let’s say your inner self says, “Agh, don’t keep making those silly mistakes—they’re time-consuming, and they make me look bad.”
Instantly reframe that as, “I care about the quality of my work—so I’m going to focus on what I’m doing and start double-checking my work.”
Simply turning things you shouldn’t do into things you should makes it much easier to move forward and improve.
Practicing these techniques will make you more confident, both internally and externally. Plus, being nicer to yourself just makes you happier. So next time your inner critic starts talking—you know what to do.
About Signature Consultants, LLC
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the seventh consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is now the 14th largest IT staffing firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 26 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit www.sigconsult.com.