Nobody really enjoys criticism but some of us are able to handle it better than others. Some people take it with a pinch of salt and can use it constructively without letting it bother them too much. Others take it very personally, becoming angry and upset and fixate on the issue for a long time after. I work with many clients who receive regular criticism from bosses, colleagues or even family members. Many of the communication methods we use nowadays like email and social media have made criticism more frequent, harsher and more damaging as many social barriers are removed. In the worst case scenarios poor handling of criticism can lead to stress, damaged confidence and loss of motivation.
Here are some tips to help you effectively deal with all types of criticism.
Make a Fair Assessment
It’s useful to be able to remain rational enough, even after harsh criticism, to make a fair judgement of whether the criticism has been given fairly and was intended as helpful or constructive, or whether the criticism is destructive and only intended to hurt you. Ask yourself who is giving the criticism and why? Is it a trusted friend or teacher, a stranger or even an enemy? What could the reasons for the criticism be?
Message Over Delivery
Many people are not good at giving criticism and may not present their thoughts well. Try to focus more on the message and intentions behind it rather than the potentially poor delivery. By responding in a positive way you can negate their negative delivery and regain control of the situation.
Acknowledge That No One Is Perfect
Many of us prefer to live in denial of our own flaws as it can be uncomfortable to face them. It can often be difficult to see flaws in yourself but most of us see them in other people. Try taking a step back and viewing yourself as another might. Make a list of aspects of your own behaviour and personality that you’d like to improve. Being mindful of our own flaws means that we are less troubled by criticism and can respond with well-considered answers.
It’s tempting to read more into criticism than has actually been said. If your boss says they feel you’ve been a bit less productive lately they could simply be asking if something is holding you back – they aren’t saying that you’re a terrible worker or that you’re lazy. Don’t read more into a statement than is said.
If you don’t feel you understand where the criticism is coming from try not to become overly defensive or react with denial. Ask some gentle questions about why they feel like this or for more detailed examples. There may have been a misunderstanding. Remember that their opinion is equally valid even if you disagree.
If you always react badly to criticism or feel very threatened by people in authority ask yourself why that is. Are there events in your past that you would benefit from dealing with? Do you feel like you would like to work on your emotional intelligence, control or resilience? Or perhaps you would like help with trust, self-improvement or communication skills. There are many aspects to effectively dealing with criticism so, however I can help you, please do get in touch.