Most people who complain or criticise are doing so because they have a committed point of view. If they were not committed, they wouldn’t say anything. People who repeatedly complain about the same issue do so because they don’t feel that they have been heard and what they have to say is important to them.
I was delivering a workshop on leadership for a division in a large building materials company and one of the managers who had been with the company for 30 years was stuck on a negative view he had about ‘leadership workshops’ and that this workshop was going to be the same. I took the time to listen to him and when he was finished, I acknowledged him for being someone who was willing to speak up about things he didn’t feel were working because he was committed to making a difference. When he experienced that I heard his communication, he stopped being critical and actively participated and encouraged his peers to also actively participate. He moved from being a critic that could have influenced others to be critical to a champion for what we were out to achieve in the workshop.
When someone seems negative or critical, and your first reaction is to resist what they are saying, inevitably your resistance will have them persist, it will prompt resistance on their part. Try relating to these people as committed people who are out to make a difference with their communication, listen to them and ask them questions to understand what they are committed to. You don’t have to agree with them or justify your position or try and convince them, just listen and understand them and in most cases, they will then listen and understand your view. Take a look at this Linkedin post written by Jacky Carter on how Kat Cole, President and COO of Cinnabon converted her boss from a critic into her greatest champion.
Turning critics into champions in your business will not only affect the critic, but everyone that the critic influences. The impact is substantial, it converts negative energy into positive energy. So search out your critics and see them as an opportunity and take the time to convert them into champions.