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What You Want: To learn from constructive criticism (instead of just getting upset).

What to Try: A change in vocabulary. Back when the founder of Virgin Atlantic, Richard Branson, was just starting out in the airline business he used to cold call passengers who had just arrived at Heathrow on a Virgin airplane and say, "this is Richard Branson, I'm just calling to welcome you to England and ask if everything went well on the flight." Whatever the passenger went on to say about his company—be it a complaint or a hymn of praise—Branson identified it as an "observation." That decision, he writes in his new book The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership, allowed him to take the comments of the passenger less personally and actually hear the information the speaker was trying to communicate. Our take? The technique can be applied to more than customer relations. Imagine your teenage daughter comments on your not having done the laundry last night. If you take it as a complaint, you're bound to feel guilt, resentment and not a little rage, since she's 14 and can operate a washer/dryer. If you take it as an observation, then it's a little simpler. You did not do the laundry. And you can decide to do it tonight—or you can remind her that she could.


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