In the heat of the moment when someone criticizes us, it’s easy to react and make things worse. Too often when I’ve received a critical comment at church I’ve gotten defensive or said something in return that I wish I could take back. Has that every happened to you? When that happens, what can we do in the moment? Years ago I learned a simple acronym that can help us respond appropriately to criticism. Here it is.
Respond to criticism with LEARN.
- L … listen: Simply hear the person out.
- E … empathize: Acknowledge how they feel.
- A … apologize: Even if you aren’t responsible for the problem, an apology for their experience may help ameliorate ill feelings.
- R … respond: Explain that you will attempt to address the issue if at all possible.
- N … notify: Let those who can potentially fix the problem know about it.
The next time someone in your church brings you a complaint, LEARN from it instead of reacting to it.
What has helped you respond appropriately to criticism?