Dale Carnegie discovered early on in is professional life that although he couldn’t keep people from criticizing him unjustly, he could do something infinitely more important: he could determine whether he would let the unjust condemnation disturb him. He was quite clear about his intent—he wasn’t advocating ignoring all criticism. He was talking about ignoring only unjust criticism.
Carnegie once asked Eleanor Roosevelt how she handled unjust criticism—and Mrs. Roosevelt had garnered plenty of it. As Dale Carnegie said, “she probably had more ardent friends and more violent enemies than any other woman who ever lived in the White House.”
Mrs. Roosevelt told Carnegie that as a young girl she was almost morbidly shy, afraid of what people might say. She was so afraid of criticism that one day she asked her aunt, Teddy Roosevelt’s sister, for advice on how to handle criticism.
Her aunt looked her in the eye and said, “Never be bothered by what people say, as long as you know in your heart you are right.”
Eleanor Roosevelt told Carnegie that that bit of advice proved to be her Rock of Gibraltar years later, when she was in the White House. She told him that the only way we can avoid all criticism is to be like a Dresden-china figure and stay on the shelf. “Do what you feel in your heart to be right,” she said, “for you’ll be criticized, anyway. You’ll be ‘damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.’”
We all face criticism at one point or another. The lesson here is to stick to your values and morals and make the decisions that you know to be right in your heart.
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