Overcoming negative criticism can be a challenging experience, but it’s essential for personal growth and success. In this article, we share a story of a coach who learned a valuable lesson about the impact of negative feedback and how he transformed his coaching style to achieve even greater success with his team. Dale Carnegie’s quote reminds us that emotions play a significant role in how we receive criticism, and it’s crucial to handle it in a positive and productive manner. Join us as we explore how to overcome negative criticism and turn it into a powerful tool for growth.

Deserved or not, it accomplishes nothing positive. Dale Carnegie wrote: “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”

Carnegie’s statement may not be very encouraging but it is a word to the wise.

Building a Winning Culture and Feeling the Pressure

Firstly, I had the privilege of coaching a uniquely gifted and unified team of competitive soccer players. During multiple seasons, we remained undefeated. As we rose through the ranks, the competition grew tougher and our victories were sometimes by the smallest margin. Consequently, the players felt the pressure, the parents felt the pressure, and I really felt the pressure. Nevertheless, losing was not our culture nor our experience.

Parental Observation Leads to a Moment of Self-Reflection

During pre-game warm-ups, a parent approached me. She was very gracious in her manner while mustering the courage to share an observation with me. “You’re an amazing coach and we all love you.” She started, as I braced for the BUT. “You’ve always practiced positive coaching, explaining and sometimes demonstrating what the boys should do and can do. It appears as of late, your instructions center on the negative. On what not to do.”


I’m sure I thanked her half-heartedly as I turned and walked back toward the team. Then it struck me like a bolt of lightning. Though I am a very competitive person, I am not a negative person. She was right! Under pressure, I revealed my fear of losing. I revealed my self-absorbed focus. The boys became a self-serving tool in my hands. Disgusting.

Focusing on improvement over fear and mistakes

I woke up. I did some inside-out work. We continued our winning ways but we did it by focusing on improving not on fear or on mistakes.

Remember, overcoming negative criticism starts with recognizing and addressing our own insecurities and fears. Only then can we truly grow and succeed.

Through patience, a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.
Proverbs 25:15

As clearly displayed by the blog, undoubtedly, the first step to overcoming negative criticism is realizing that there really is something that needs improvement. Acknowledgment is the key! To explore more on the subject, another blog worth reading would be Acknowledgment – We can’t change what we’re not willing to admit.

Want to read or listen to more content? You can also visit our blogs and podcast pages for a complete list of content. With the scope of the topics covered, you’ll certainly find something that’ll interest you. So go check them out!

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