Criticism is something we encounter frequently and that is beneficial to our lives. Criticism is integral for personal and professional development. Yet, criticism has the power to break our confidence and when taken too seriously, can lower self-esteem significantly. Criticism can also cause anger and make us feel like we are insulted. Criticism can be made from your employer, friends, significant others or family members.
Personally, I receive many positive comments regarding my work or lifestyle. These words of encouragement and praise really help to brighten my day and really help me to stay focused. I also deal with criticism in many aspects of my life from family, boyfriends and colleagues. Although some of this may not be what I want to hear, it has had drastic positive consequences in my life. I have been able to grow and improve as a person. I have been able to keep developing as a person in both my personal and professional life.
Without accepting criticism you risk the potential of not developing internally. You risk making the same repeated mistakes and missing out on golden opportunities. Being able to accept criticism will allow you to grow as a person and be confident that even when faced with challenges or your own weaknesses, you can still overcome them and be successful.
When you first feel criticism you may experience immediate feelings of anger. You may want to lash out or insult the other person. First, take deep calm breaths and relax. Try to determine why and how the criticism was delivered. Was the person intentionally trying to hurt you or were they delivering the criticism with the best intentions? Was the person actually attacking you and trying to be hostile or were they just trying to give you constructive feedback so that you can improve yourself and your work? It’s normal to get angry upon first hearing criticism but that’s no reason to react right away. Just take a deep breath and think about the criticism before responding. Thinking before reacting will prevent future misunderstandings, conflict and hurt feelings.
Acknowledge The Criticism
Whether or not you perceive the criticism as true, you should at least let the speaker know that you appreciate the person sharing their thoughts with you. Thank the person for their criticism, even if it’s rude. Being rude back will not help you in any way and may cause the situation to be worse. Sometimes people were not intending to be rude or were just having a bad day, and ended up saying something harsher than they normally would. Just acknowledge the criticism and politely say thank you.
Find The Positive In The Criticism
No matter, how the criticism was delivered, try and find the positive in what the person told you. This can be tough, especially when it’s something you disagree with, but spend some time considering the criticism and what it means. For instance, if an acquaintance of yours tells you that they expected better of your work, try and think about what that could mean. Does that mean that from your prior work, they saw you did a spectacular job and were disappointed by this specific project? Did they give you specific instructions that you did not follow? Do you normally do a great job, but had an off day and didn’t do your best this time? Find the positives.
Even if you don’t agree with the criticism, you can still find positives in it. Try and remember that sometimes people just have bad days. Consider that maybe their criticism is short sighted. Sometimes criticism can come from not seeing a full picture of things. Again, find the positive in the criticism.
Learn From The Criticism
Many times, it’s difficult for someone to accept that they are wrong. I’ve dealt with this problem in the past. In prior relationships, an ex would give me criticism and I would immediately want to be right. I didn’t want to say, “you are right, I do have this problem”. Many people do not like saying they are wrong. So learn from the criticism. It’s likely that if someone criticizes you that there is some grain of truth with that.
Think about what they said, and learn and improve from it. If you are not sure where to start then ask the person for suggestions. Let’s take the example from earlier. If someone mentions they are disappointed in your work, then ask them what could have been improved. In the future, ask them periodically if they are happy with certain elements before showing them the finished product. You’ll be surprised when sometimes all you need are simple adjustments to fix the problem.
If this is a relationship then talk to that person and ask them specifically what the problem is. Ask them what their expectations are and how you both can work together to make this easier. For instance, let’s take the situation of a girlfriend who tells you that she thinks you are self-centered when choosing what to do on date nights. You should ask her specifically what you can do to be less selfish. Maybe make a commitment that she can choose what to do every other date night, and you will let her make the decision. Work together to come to an option that addresses the criticism and helps you develop.