How To Embrace And Deal With Criticism Like A Pro
Criticism is everywhere. Learn to navigate it skillfully if you want to succeed in life
Watch out for the joy-stealers: gossip, criticism, complaining, faultfinding, and a negative, judgmental attitude. —Joyce Meyer
We’re living in times of excess, and one thing everyone will agree on is criticism is abundant as well.
It often comes under the garb of feedback and is primarily unsolicited, scathing, and blunt.
And it comes from all quarters: family members, friends, colleagues, peers, bosses, superiors, teachers, acquaintances, strangers. People from the virtual world.
And don’t even get me started on the trolls in the virtual world and the venom they spew. We’ll leave this story for another day.
Some people specialize in evaluating, fault finding, and judging others. As if engaging in nasty criticism is their only business. They observe people, have an opinion — about everything and everyone — and feel entitled to put it across.
“I’m not everybody’s cup of tea. But sometimes, criticism can be hurtful. Be respectful. I’m a good piano player, sing well, and write good songs. If you don’t like it, fair enough. But give me a break.” —Elton John
The world would have been a better place if we had less purposeless, goalless, and directionless people.
So much for wishful thinking.
Handling criticism can be difficult, and it hurts.
Let’s face it. The world is full of critics — always was, always will be.
And it’s not a great feeling to be on the other side of criticism.
Some people openly declare: “I welcome criticism because it helps me better myself and become my best version.” I’ve heard it several hundred times over the years and known such people. The truth is: criticism is hard to stomach for everyone. That’s because it makes you feel insufficient, hurt, inadequate.Criticism means others are questioning your abilities and capabilities.
Criticism implies you didn’t measure up.
And that delivers a strong punch in the stomach.
Three elements of criticism decide how it makes you feel:
1.Who is criticizing you
2.What is being said
3.What is the tone in which it is expressed
The closer the person is to you, the more is their feedback (read criticism) informal (read raw and ruthless), and the more are the chances that it hits you hard.
Most people — especially those in a position of power and authority —are gross and won’t sugarcoat their words. Such criticism can ruin your self-confidence, profoundly affect your self-esteem and take you on a downward spiral.
There are some people — the thick-skinned kinds — who thrive on criticism. It’s their oxygen. The more they are ripped apart and trolled, the more they work on themselves and come back stronger.
Long live the tribe of such blessed souls.
For the lesser mortals, there are some tried and tested ways you can handle criticism like a pro.
How to deal with criticism
You must invest time and effort to learn how to deal with criticism because if you allow yourself to be vulnerable and get affected by criticism, it is difficult to heal the wounds.
Prevention certainly is better than cure when it comes to handling criticism.
Logically speaking, criticism in itself is just information. It’s how you process and interpret it in your mind that makes all the difference.
There are two channels of flow for the information:
1.From others to you
2.From you to you
There’s not much you can do to stop others from criticizing you — except maybe, shift to the Himalayas. So when you don’t have an option of fixing the world, the only practical choice is to fix things at your end.
Begin with a change in mindset and turn around how you process the information you receive from others.
First things first.
What not to do when you are criticized
When criticism comes your way, don’t lose yourself or develop a knee-jerk reaction. Take a pause and keep it cool.
Here’s what you should not be dong when criticized:
- ·Don’t attack back
- ·Don’t be defensive
- ·Don’t be overly sensitive
- ·Don’t take it personally
- ·Don’t feel insulted
- ·Please don’t allow it to trigger emotions in you
- ·Don’t dwell on it
Behaving in any other manner can take things from bad to worse for you two and between the both of you.
What you should do when you are criticized
1. Be open to feedback
Accepting feedback can be challenging, especially when it is negative. Even though you know no one’s perfect and everyone makes mistakes.
Nevertheless, you have to learn how to embrace it without getting discouraged.
An easy way to have an open mind for criticism is to view it in a positive light.
2. Hear it out
When someone is sharing their feedback with you — which you might perceive as criticism — be graceful, practice patience, and give the person a chance to say all they wish to communicate.
Once they’re done with the talking, you can take your turn as questions and seek clarifications. Keep it polite and respectful all along, and don’t forget to thank the person.
3. Fathom the intention
This applies to negative feedback and criticism. When you feel the criticism was unreasonable and uncalled for, try to figure out the space it is coming from and the intention behind the attack.
Maybe someone is having a bad day, and they’re taking it out on you. Criticism done just for the heck of it has no point. It should be ignored and discarded there and then.
It could be that the other person is in direct or indirect competition with you and is trying to pull you down on some silly pretext or issue. In such circumstances, the criticism can be a personal attack also.
Sometimes your boss or superior can get offended when you knowingly or unknowingly threaten or challenge their authority. In such a scenario, criticism is meant to cut you down to settle the ego score.
4. Subject the criticism to quality test
It’s human nature to become emotional when you are criticized. But that won’t serve any useful purpose. On the contrary, it will make things difficult for you, and the harsh words will keep troubling you for a long time.
As soon as you receive criticism from someone, keep your emotions in check and don’t take it to heart.
See things in perspective and run a quick analysis in your mind.
- Is the criticism just a piece of information
- It is an honest feedback
- Is it valid
- Is the criticism coming from an authentic person
- Is it meant to alert you on your blindspots
- Should you consider it
- Should you act on it
If you’re still doubtful and unable to tell clearly what the criticism stands for, it’s always a good idea to check it with someone reliable. Reach out to your close friend or support group and discuss it with them.
At the end of this exercise, you’ll end up in two situations:
1) You get it
2) You don’t get it
In the former case — where you understand that the criticism is genuine, valid, constructive, and for your good — be grateful to the person who took time to observe, analyze and share their thoughts with you.
Be quick to make a note of the feedback and the improvements you need to make and get busy with the task.
In the latter case — where you can’t figure out why you were criticized in the first place — up your mental defenses, bullet-proof yourself, and don’t let the harsh words get to you.
“If you keep your feathers well oiled, the water of criticism will runoff as from a duck’s back.”—Ellen Swallow Richards
Many times the criticism is not about you; it’s about the person who is attacking you with veiled criticism. It reflects on them, not you. Shannon L.Alder best said it, “Often those that criticize others reveal what he lacks.”
You are the final approving authority
If there’s a right way to give feedback, there’s a right way to receive it too. Don’t let any random person’s vague judgment or criticism get the best of you.
The next time someone throws your way their feedback or shares their opinion about you, use a mental strainer to filter their words. Remember, you’re the final authority, and it’s on you what you choose to accept and what you think is trash.
It’s a competitive — and cruel — world out there. Criticism is a part of the deal. Don’t let it affect you adversely and stall your progress.
Train yourself to deal with criticism effectively, make use of what’s relevant, let go of what doesn’t serve you, move forward, and get on with your life.
“You gotta be able to take criticism if you want to be anything close to great even if it’s not true. You can use that negative energy and turn that into energy that drives you to be something more than you thought you couldbe.” —DeMar DeRozan
Author of 6 books | 6X Top writer on Medium | 2.6M views on Quora | Personal development coach