We all face criticism at one point in our lives. However, handling it in the right manner can become a big challenge for most of us because it feels unpleasant, uncomfortable, and quite personal. Elbert Hubbard wrote, “Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing, and you’ll never be criticized.” That simply means that criticism is a possibility at any given time, no matter what you do or say.
Given that, criticism is inevitable in the workplace, school, home, etc. It’s, unfortunately, a fact of life. For instance, you’ll hear criticism from your coworkers, supervisor, or manager. Learning to listen, understand, and respond with detachment is a vital life skill. Yet it’s only a smaller fraction that has it.
Criticism has led to unnecessary suffering. This article will define criticism and explore ways of dealing with criticism like a pro instead of avoiding it. It will highlight ways of using criticism to fill specific gaps in your experience, skills, and knowledge.
Let’s get started.
What is criticism?
Criticism is an opinion or evaluation of a person based on specific standards. A person can express a harsh negative evaluation of another person, their point of view, or their decision. In another sense, criticism can signify discerning judgment, especially when it’s given to promote improvement. This is what is referred to as constructive criticism especially at the workplace.
Whether it’s constructive or not, criticism can hurt depending on the tone used and the intent of the person offering it. Knowing how to handle all types of criticism can benefit you greatly.
Here are tips for dealing with criticism and using it to get better.
10 Effective Ways of Handling Criticism
1. Remain Calm
Getting angry or defensive when you face a critical comment hinders you from listening and understanding what the speaker is saying. In fact, our thinking is limited when we get emotional, and our reactions become more questionable.
Taking a few deep breaths before responding to feedback can be helpful because it refrains you from exploding. Better still, you can take a walk until you come down and be able to approach things more calmly. You may also request to reschedule the conversation to another time.
Even so, never entertain a friend, partner, sibling, colleague, or others to hurt your self-esteem. So instead of reacting angrily, seek clarification. In the end, you will realize that the ill-intended comment will shatter like rocks when scrutinized. So then, always pause before reacting to critical statements. Setting your emotions aside will help you avoid saying or doing something you will regret later.
2. Pay Attention
The natural tendency when someone hears criticism is to withdraw or dismiss it because it feels very uncomfortable. But remaining open and objective to the other person’s comments and feedback can be helpful. In fact, you can try your best not to interrupt them when speaking because it gives you an excellent chance to understand their statement and avoid misinterpreting it or reaching the wrong conclusion. In fact, it’s important to understand that it takes a lot of courage to give feedback or correction.
The next step after listening to criticism is to assess the feedback. You may ask yourself whether the person is known to care about you in the past. Has pinpointed the specific area you need to work on and whether they have given you the suggestion on how to go about it.
But you should be cautious if your boss, parent, or partner is criticizing your work, actions, or decision using demeaning and self-aggrandizing language. In most instances, they intend to drag you into ceaseless power trips.
3. Ask Questions
Is there any truth in this criticism? Do you know this person? Do you trust them? Do they have your best interest at heart?
Although a person that knows you too well and that you trust may criticize your actions or decision, such an individual is less likely to give you negative feedback for no apparent reason. As a result, you may be more receptive to such a person than a stranger.
Additionally, some people are very critical by their nature. These individuals will never see anything good about everything. Therefore it’s advisable not to take their criticism like the absolute truth.
Worse still, some people are critical out of malice and have no basis for their criticism. Their intention is to be deliberately destructive and push you into a fight for no reason. In such a case, you may overlook their criticism.
4. Don’t Criticize Back
Make it your goal to learn and improve from every criticism that comes your way. However, you are more likely to miss this opportunity if you react defensively. Even if you feel the critic is at fault and that you’re offended, answering back with another criticism will inflame the situation or escalate the situation.
5. Avoid Taking Criticism Personal
The majority of people that hate criticism tend to take it personally when they encounter it. In fact, such individuals perceive it as a real-self attack. But realizing that you also criticize others because of their pride or jealousy should help you to avoid getting hurt by it. You should also view it as simply passing emotions but not an attack on your personality, appearance, achievements, decision, etc.
6. Make a Resolution
Listen and understand the criticism, assess whether it’s constructive or not, and now look for ways to address the concerns. You can achieve that by explaining a misunderstanding, accepting that it’s a valid criticism, acknowledging and apologizing for the mistake, and resolving to make improvements or necessary changes in the future.
On the other hand, you might end the conversation politely if you feel it was unnecessary or destructive and take time to reflect on it. You may also speak to someone that knows you well about it. This should be someone you value their opinion and known to give sound feedback. Such a person will evaluate the input and confirm whether there is any truth to it.
7. Show Gratitude
It’s important to thank the person that offered you meaningful feedback because they may want you to succeed. Naturally, people get hurt or feel embarrassed when they learn that they’re wrong. However, understanding the motives of those who criticize you and thanking them for helping you make needed improvements can be helpful.
It might be helpful if you could focus on the suggestions instead of the tone of the feedback. This is because some people may have extremely valuable critical suggestions, but they lack good communication skills. It’s best to concentrate on the feedback instead of their confrontational manner of speaking. Actually, you will be able to show gratitude when you separate the two items and choose to pay attention to their helpful suggestions.
8. Silence the Critic
At times, it’s important to silence your critics by showing them that you understand that your actions, decisions, performance didn’t meet their expectations. You can promise them that you will do better next time.
Further, you may ask them to give you suggestions of what you have done in this situation to make things better or any future event. Handling criticism this way will help the critics reevaluate how they give you feedback or manage how they will offer it next time.
You may also withdraw from the conversation when it gets nasty by telling the other person that you appreciate the discussion but not now. You may even give them an appropriate time to continue with this discussion. This will provide them with an excellent opportunity to weigh their criticism and improve it.
9. Minimize Your Interactions with Critics
There are different kinds of people on this planet. While some individuals are interested in your well-being, others thrive by putting you down for no apparent reason. You can consider cutting your interactions with anyone that demonstrates a pattern of offering negative comments or feedback. Instead, you can replace them with friends with a positive attitude.
10. Give Yourself Some Grace
Nobody is perfect or knows everything. So no matter your experience, you’re likely to make mistakes, or there is still something new that you can learn from others. Having such an outlook can help you view criticism as a way to identify your weaker points and make some improvements. In fact, maintaining such an attitude will help you to get a better outcome from the criticism.
Handling criticism has never been enjoyable. But you can learn to make the best of it. You can make it your goal never to take any criticism personally. Instead, you can view every interaction as a chance to grow personally or professionally.