Why Workplace Criticism Is Harder on Turbulent Personality Types

Kyle 1 month ago 10 comments

Criticism is a part of any workplace, but not every personality type handles it the same. I’m talking to my fellow Turbulent types here (hey!), or those who wish to understand them.

How do you know if you or someone else has a Turbulent Identity? With our free personality test, of course.

Let’s think about criticism for a moment. It’s kind of a broad term. It could mean anything from compassionate, constructive feedback to an unfounded personal attack. What trips some of us up is telling the difference – the first might feel like the latter.

That’s where the Turbulent trait plays a part. Relatively speaking, we Turbulent personalities are less likely to be self-confident and more likely to be emotionally volatile. That can make it tough to hear criticism – we’re more likely than Assertive types to be easily offended.

Managing our responses to criticism in the workplace is important, though. If our reactions distract us, we might miss helpful information or opportunities. If we get testy, well, that’s not great, either. Also, it just sucks to feel upset, which makes it hard to work. But being aware of our Turbulence helps us step beyond it when we want to.

So let’s review some potential Turbulent personality behaviors and get some perspective on ourselves, okay? Our other traits affect how we deal with criticism, so it’s worth some individual self-inquiry. I’ll even share a few personal thoughts, and if you care to share yours in the comments, I’d love to read them.

What It Is, and What It Isn’t

When it comes to asking for constructive criticism, our research shows little difference between Assertive and Turbulent personality types. (They’re both roughly neutral.) And when asked if they usually apply the suggestions they receive through constructive criticism, about four out of five of both types agreed. So it isn’t as if Turbulent types don’t seek useful criticism (we do!).

But there is a slight difference in what may offend us. Turbulent types are a little bit more likely to find criticism of their personality or appearance offensive, compared to Assertive types. One would hope that wouldn’t be much of an issue at work, but people don’t always clash over job-related issues.

I’ve been criticized in the past for my unrepentant rejection of fashion as well as rougher aspects of my personality. Was it reasonable? Maybe. To me, context matters, and I think it’s important to have good work relationships, although personally, I tend to put more effort into being nice than looking nice. But that’s just me. What about you?

Self-View Is Critical

Turbulent personality types are more likely to have critical thoughts about themselves than about other people. It could be that this harsher view of ourselves makes us more vulnerable to criticism. We might be more likely to believe other people’s negative perceptions or let them influence our self-image.

That’s not helpful at work, especially in more competitive environments. It’s reasonable to expect some affirmation from coworkers, but it’s also reasonable to expect criticism and pressure to improve, so durability and self-affirmation are important things to practice. Working on our deeper personal issues improves our ability to receive criticism in a beneficial way.

Sometimes it’s hard to find a healthy balance between self-esteem and self-examination, especially for Turbulent personalities. It’s easy to slide too far into extremes, like feeling arrogant or beating ourselves up (are those modes familiar?). But it’s awesome when we’re on that middle ground where we see areas for self-improvement yet retain a positive self-view that gives us energy to move forward. That can make criticisms feel more like opportunities for growth.

Delivery Makes a Difference

When it comes to receiving criticism, how it’s said is a little more likely to be important to Turbulent types than what’s being said. Both aspects matter, but it’s easier for us to hear criticism as something potentially valuable if it doesn’t set off defensive alarm bells or get our dander up.

But not all personality types we encounter at work put tact first, even when they mean well. And sometimes people who otherwise like and respect us don’t have the time or energy to hold our hands – they’re under pressure too. When we understand others in the workplace, it can help put their attitude in context. We don’t need to take the pricklier moments quite as personally.

Finding Personal Methods to Handle Criticism

For me, focusing on what’s being said helps me get past how it’s said. But that’s a very Architect (INTJ) approach that may not work as well for all Turbulent personality types. So what can you try?

When you’re criticized, it may be helpful to delay your response, if possible. Off-the-cuff Turbulent reactions can sometimes be a little raw. You might be more clearheaded if you take a little time to stabilize your feelings, process what’s been said, and decide how to proceed. Even a few moments to take a deep breath and gather yourself can help.

Sometimes you may also need to let people know if you’re not being treated respectfully, even as you acknowledge any truth in a criticism. Being insulted doesn’t help you improve your performance, and you’re within your rights to say, “I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t appreciate your harshness.” People can share criticism respectfully, and it’s okay to ask for that.

It’s also okay to dissect criticism to separate opinion from fact and to examine possible motivations behind it. Not as a defense or denial, but to put things in context. We can hope that criticism in the workplace is honestly aimed at making things better, but it’s good to watch out for people who have an ax to grind on certain subjects or who are all about personal motivations.

I’ve referenced data from our “Criticism” survey for this article. If you’d like to examine how you handle criticism, you can take that survey as a self-assessment. (I did.) It’s quick, and you can compare your response to all personality types, including others like you. So, fellow Turbulent types, how do you handle work-related criticism?

Further Reading

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