Two quarterbacks suffered through similar games. Both quarterbacks played poorly. Both got booed by their fans. And both of their teams lost.

Each quarterback, however, responded differently to post-game questions from the media.

When asked about the fans booing him during the game, the first quarterback responded, “I would’ve booed me to. I wasn’t playing up to the standard that our team expects, and our fans deserve better.”

When asked the same the question, the second quarterback responded, ‘Well I’d like to see one of them come down to the field and try to do better. It’s not my fault that passes were dropped or that my line couldn’t block or that the right plays weren’t called.”

The first quarterback took ownership of the issue, conveying class and humility. The second quarterback took it personal, becoming defensive and obsessing over blame.

Their contrasting responses illustrate two completely different approaches to handling criticism. Some choose to handle criticism with grace. Others choose to handle criticism by becoming defensive and deflecting the blame away from themselves. It wouldn’t matter what was said to them or by whom it was said, their instinctive reaction will be to bulk at the criticism.

By nature, criticism is difficult to handle. Nobody wants to receive negative feedback, especially when it’s delivered in a hurtful manner. Being defensive toward criticism is understandable even if it’s labeled as constructive criticism, which is why good teammates choose not to view the feedback as criticism.

Good teammates view all feedback—be it negative or positive—as an opportunity to grow. They see feedback as instruction.

Good teammates have an innate desire to get better. They are forever searching for ways to improve their individual talents, so they can help their team be successful. A constant desire to improve causes good teammates to crave instruction—the most effective way to create improvement.

Since they choose to view the feedback as instruction instead of criticism, they don’t take it personal and they don’t mind how it’s delivered. Good teammates know that whatever feedback they receive can help them grow.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, many times being a good teammate is nothing more than choosing the appropriate perspective. In this case, it’s choosing to accept feedback as instruction instead of criticism.

Criticism hurts. Instruction helps.

Everything the second quarterback said in his response may have been true. Receivers may have dropped passes. Linemen may have missed blocks. The wrong plays may have been called. And he may not have been to blame for his poor play.

The same could also apply to the first quarterback. But the first quarterback chose to suppress and not verbalize those thoughts, focusing more on caring about becoming the version of himself that his teammates deserve.

As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.

Lance Loya is a leading authority on the good teammate mindset. He is a college basketball coach turned author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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