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When I hire someone to work closely with me, there are two things I want to know:

First, I want to know about his or her work ethic. Having been raised on a dairy farm and personally seen the value of hard work, I cannot labor alongside anyone who is lazy, lacks initiative, or is not a self-starter.

Secondly, I want to know if he or she is defensive by nature. How do they respond when corrected or when confronted? Defensive people, like those with a poor work ethic, are burdensome and very difficult to help. I greatly believe in growing people, not just hiring people. Defensive people don’t necessarily want to grow and develop. Since they feel the need to defend themselves against all criticism, even when it is said well and meant well, they are so challenging to help.

People who want to overcome a defensive attitude have asked me, "What do I need to do?" My advice is simple: remember that typically when people give criticism, they are not criticizing you personally. They're criticizing a suggestion or an idea. This is an opportunity for good! Two minds are better than one, three are better than two, four better than three, etc. The Bible says, "But in the multitude of counselors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14b).

Pushback is healthy. It allows you to discard bad ideas, refine good ideas, and think of new suggestions, etc. Nobody is insinuating, "You are questionable." Keeping that in mind will make you appreciate the fact that they think so highly of you as a person and care enough about your ideas to give you helpful and intelligent feedback.

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