Community & Government

Taking Criticism Seriously, Not Personally

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Lesson time 11:32 min

Whether you’re in the public or private arena, whether you’re facing family, work, or political challenges, you will encounter criticism. Learn how to filter outside voices and opinions so that you can efficiently take in constructive feedback.

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Topics include: Taking Criticism Seriously, Not Personally • Consider Other Perspectives • How to Share Feedback With Others • Stay True to Who You Are •


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (VOICEOVER): After decades in the public eye, I am no stranger to being judged. I've been criticized for my looks, my voice, my ambition. I've been viciously mocked and called terrible names. And yes, it hurts. It bothers me. But I've been able to compartmentalize and to filter outside voices by not taking it all personally, and by considering other perspectives and working to stay grounded. [MUSIC PLAYING] I learned a long time ago that almost regardless of what I was going to do, if I was involved in the public arena-- or if, by extension when I married, my husband was-- I was going to get criticized. And I learned to take criticism seriously, but not personally. And by that, I mean sometimes your critics can be your best friends. They may say something or write something that you actually can learn from. So you don't want to ignore criticism from legitimate sources. Your political opponents may not be a legitimate source, or someone who thought they should get your job instead of you might not be a legitimate source. But if you take it seriously enough to sort it out, to see if there's some message that you should be receiving, that's okay. But don't take it personally. Because so often in my experience, criticism was really meant to just knock me off course, upset me. The meanness of it, the one-sided nature of it. And some people are so sensitive to criticism that literally, it knocks them to their knees. And you just can't let that happen. I remember one time many years ago, I was speaking at an event that was held in a church in Arkansas. And I was sitting-- I came in late. And I was sitting in the back. So when my turn came, I had to walk down the center aisle to go to the front of the church to speak about this matter they were discussing. And I literally can remember walking down the aisle and hearing out of my right ear someone who said, oh, that's really an ugly dress. And literally, like four or five steps later, I really like her dress. I cannot tell you how liberating that was. Because it was not meant for me to hear, but the aisle was narrow. The church wasn't that big. And I could hear, as I was walking toward the front, what people were saying. And I thought, great. You know? You can't please all the people all the time. You do what you think is best and you go on. You can't let every criticism pierce you, because you're going to get criticized. But you can't grow a skin so thick that you are immune from feeling. You still have to be aware. You have to be sensitive, so that you are reacting to what's going on around you. When you are doing anything that provokes criticism, you have to look at the motives of whoever is criticizing you. Some people should not be taken seriously. They don't deserve it. But some people are thoughtfully trying to get you a message, or they're trying to make what you're trying to do even better. And you should pay attention to tha...

About the Instructor

With a lifetime of smashing barriers and achieving at the highest levels of public service, Hillary Rodham Clinton has learned to tap deep wells of resilience to reach her goals. Now the former U.S. senator and secretary of state is teaching the values, lessons, and practical tools that help her rise above, even sharing her never-before-heard 2016 presidential victory speech. Be inspired to own your ambition and make your mark.

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Hillary Rodham Clinton

Barrier-smashing leader Hillary Rodham Clinton teaches you how to overcome setbacks and build a life of principle and purpose.

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