Reassurance Seekers and Criticism

10 Oct


Criticism is an inevitable fact of life, and we can use it as a valuable learning opportunity to help us as we pursue our goals. However, while the ability to receive criticism and benefit from it can become an important asset in our “toolkit,” there’s no need for anyone to invite criticism unnecessarily into their life. After all, there’s certainly enough criticism out there circulating around as it is.

Believe it or not, there are those who actually invite criticism into their lives – I call these types of individuals “critiholics.”

One type of “critiholic” that I have identified is the Reassurance Seeker. These individuals invite criticism by coming right out and asking for it! One way they set themselves up for criticism is by discussing their vulnerabilities to others all in hopes of reassurance. It’s the individual who turns to his co-worker and says, “Well, I wasn’t prepared yesterday in the meeting when I had to give that presentation. I really put that information together at the last minute. I hope it didn’t show.” When this individual doesn’t get the reassurance they are seeking, they think to themselves, “How dare he criticize my presentation!”

Another way they invite criticism is by asking others if they have a problem, as in, “Do you think I should go on a diet? Tell the truth – I’d be honest with you.” They expect a polite “no, of course not!” from the other person – and when they don’t get it, they become upset and put out.

When others catch on, Reassurance Seekers are criticized for their disingenuous attempts at receiving criticism because, in essence, they really don’t want it. They fail to remember that if you solicit an honest opinion, you best be prepared to receive one.

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books). To learn more about Deb Bright, visit her website at

One Response to “Reassurance Seekers and Criticism”

  1. Sandra Abbey October 13, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    Thanks for the examples of a critiholic! There is absolutely a difference between a person sharing their vulnerabilities in order to seek and receive reassurance. But, then again some leaders bull-doze over others without ever acknowledging any vulnerabilities and come off as “know-it-alls.” Somewhere in between there must be room to admit vulnerabilities when a leader stumbles and learns from it, without being seen as the critiholic.

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