In my doctoral research, I found that many high achieving women have a hard time allowing others to be who they are. They judge people based on their own high standards and tend to critically view work that is done differently than they would have done it. In other words, “There is only one right answer and it is mine.”
Yet in life, we know there is often more than one way to reach a goal. A blend of solutions may have greater results in the long run than what seemed to be the right way to do something from one person’s perspective. And if possible, it is always better to facilitate someone’s discovery of a solution than to tell them how you would do it.
I found that the best way for me to recognize when my “critical mind” is about to jump in is to be physically aware of my reactions. When my body tenses up and my eyes squint with disdain, I force myself to take a breath before I speak.
This “pausing” technique allows me to sit back and more fully judge the situation. Maybe the person is right from their perspective, which differs from mine. Maybe they have a solution that will work as well as mine (or better if I can admit it). Maybe the relationship is more important than the perfect result, so the true solution is to acknowledge the merits of their answer and then 1) see if we can blend our ideas or 2) keep my mouth shut.
What techniques do you use to quiet your critical mind?