How to Master Self Criticism like a Boss

“So tell me a time you failed at something?”

This is a common question you may tried not to roll your eyes at when you were asked this during an interview. But does the answer deserve to be frowned upon?

I know, no one likes to talk about their failures. Yet when you’re asked you either do two things: Either change the subject in a sly way because hey, they wouldn’t be asking for an interview if they didn’t see you qualified.

Or you do the complete opposite. Which is to talk about a mistake but dwell on it. It’s an easy way to give a bad impression. You try to laugh it off but the damage is done. That person no longer wants to consider you.

Like all judgement, there’s a level of humility to talk about responsibilities but there’s a line in appearing to have low self esteem.

This goes for all things about self criticism — not just in interviews.

So you don’t want to be blameless or be self doubting when talking about your past mistakes.

Here’s how you can do this:

1. Avoid Being a Martyr

You didn’t get a good night sleep, our schedule is packed from a co-worker being sick, your phone is receiving a bunch of emails. These are all reasonable excuses at the time and thus feel like they can be swept under a rug.

But what happens if you’re naturally just too hard on yourself when it comes to mistakes you make? It’s possible you have the habit of making excuses for everyone else but you. So you forget to mention this detail in talking about this with people.

While yes, don’t speak ill of others and make it seem like you don’t have self awareness about your own shortcomings. But when being asked about failures — it’s best to be as accurate as possible.

By saying ‘There was miscommunications on my team’. Sounds more truthful yet depends that there wasn’t anyone to blame for this including yourself. It’s far less negative sounding than immediately blaming yourself and then lead into a joke which may not be appropriate.

Key tip: Be honest as much as possible and don’t cast blame.

2. Stay Away From Harsh Language

Name calling words such as dumb, idiotic, reckless, etc.

These are words that should be removed form your vocabulary because it doesn’t cast you in a good light. Really you we all should state situations for what they are through.

Yes, you may have missed an important presentation because you forgot to that other states are in different time zones. But sounding harsh on yourself implies you have a hard time forgiving yourself.

Key tip: Never talk down to yourself — or anyone really.

3. Emphasize What You Learned

A ay part about failures is that they are ultimately learning lesson — if you think that way. You want to be positive because don’t like negativity. SO going beyond the problem think about how that won’t happen again.

Being positive as two things: You are about self improvement and you can be constructive when talking about negative things. Sure you might not like what has happened but this shows your outlook of your life and your future.

Key tip: Failure is a learning lesson

Despite what ever you missed the mark on there’s no wonder that you can be positive and reassuring that the past will always be in the past. Be humble and remember we’re all human. Never feel like a failure because you’re more than that.


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