I’ll take that as a compliment – how to progress in 2014

I watched TV for Britain on Christmas Day.  I spent hours sofa bound doing my best to improve my average hours viewed to somewhere near the UK average.


I didn’t manage to watch the all the UK’s biggest shows however.  I missed Strictly (don’t understand it at all) and the Queen.  Non-consolidated ratings showed Mrs Brown’s Boys won the most popular on the night battle and I skipped it, but I did sample Sky’s Crackers (what a treat), Dr Who (incomprehensible), Call the Midwife (maudlin) and Downton Abbey (a return to superb form).


Although my preferences don’t reflect the nations favourites as Mrs B achieved 35% plus share with 9.4m viewers and Dr Who built its audience year on year to 8.3m (I hope they all followed the plot because I didn’t) while Downton achieved a respectable 7th place on the night with 7m.  Downton won the night in my household and it is the inimitable Dowager Duchess whose advice is the basis of this blog, and my recommendation for your success in 2014.


The following exchange between the Duchess (DD) and her friend and critic Isobel Crawley (IC) sums up her attitude to life.  The DD is bemoaning that she must travel to London on the train without her maid. IC offers to assist her with her bags instead as she never has a maid with her when she travels.


DD: “Can’t you even offer help without sounding like a trumpeter on the peak of the moral high ground?”

IC “And must you always sound like the sister of Marie Antoinette?”

DD “The queen of Naples was a stalwart figure, I take it as a compliment”

IC “You take everything as a compliment”

DD “I advise you to do the same it saves many an awkward moment”.


The beauty of this advice is not just that it will save you an awkward moment but that in reality it is sometimes the things that you are criticised for that can be the most distinctive things about you.


As Dave Trott opined in his advice to his younger self,  one of the biggest barriers to your career advancement and to your next promotion, is that no-one’s heard of you, no-one thinks about you.  It’s crucial to stand out. Will conformist behaviour, sticking with the norm, get you noticed?


Look over your last 360 review. Whatever position you have there’s sometimes feedback that can knock your confidence.  Well, don’t let it.  Take the criticisms as compliments instead of criticisms.  How would that change what you do?  Would that get you noticed?


For example, are you too assertive?  Try turning it up, not down, but adding a portion of charm and goodwill.  Have you been told you don’t challenge enough?  Perhaps your point of difference is to be the man or woman in the room who makes everyone feel comfortable and happy.


Too much ego? Although University of Harvard, Michigan and Duke researchers suggest that this is bad for teamwork not everyone agrees. The current issue of Fast Company Magazine says you can’t have too much ego, both for your own good and the good of those around you. A sizeable ego helps with risk taking, bouncing back and of course dealing with criticism in the first place.


You still have to be great at what you do, but you also have to be noticed and to do that, take the Dowager Duchess’ advice in 2014.  Take it as a compliment.


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