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How to Respond to Criticism - Learning From Dr. King

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It is probably one of the hardest parts of our job as security professionals – presenting security issues & the potential impact of risk while not becoming an easy target for dismissal by critics. Indeed, if your day is anything like mine, much of our time is spent justifying our assertions that problems do indeed present a risk that the business should care about.

It was this that came to mind as I read a post over on Tim Ferriss’ blog calling out a letter written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The post describes the circumstances of the letter and speaks for itself regarding what can be taken away from it’s reading. The skills & posture used in this letter are things all security professionals (and really, all professionals) should learn. The letter is long, but even if you don’t read the whole thing Tim has highlighted (in bold) certain sections which stood out for him. The ability to acknowledge an argument and calmly disarm it with facts is a skill that takes practice – but this letter stands as a fine example to get you started.

How to Respond to Criticism – Learning from Dr. King

I’ll cite only this short bit at the end of the letter:

Never before have I written so long a letter. I’m afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.