Unbeatable Ways To Handle Criticisms
Criticism (without providing solution) has become the order of the day, especially as the social media platform has given users a voice, also the ability to reach out to a large number of people at the same time.
However, it must be noted that criticism is never fun. For instance, one takes his time at work, or uses all the available brain energy and one critic shoots out his/her head and cleans off the pages with an industrial eraser.
It doesn't matter where the criticism is coming from. Whether from your parents at home, your teacher in school, your boss, spouse, friend, or even frenemy.
If the criticism is meant to be constructive, then you can use it to become a more well-rounded person. And if it's only meant to harm you, then you can work on shaking it off like a bad habit. So how do you deal with it? Continue reading.
Changing Your Perspective
- If you're sure that the criticism is completely invalid, totally off, and only meant to hurt you, then you can skip down to the second section to learn how to deal with destructive criticism.
- Constructive criticism is, ideally, meant to help you. Destructive criticism is only intended to cause hurt.
- Try to focus on the message as well as the delivery. It's hard to see that a person really is telling you something legitimate that you can work on if he or she is yelling at you or just acting like you're a nuisance.
2. Accept that you're not perfect. This is a great way to deal with criticism. If you want to be able to take a little bit of feedback, then you can't keep thinking that you can do no wrong. Nobody's perfect, so if you think you're perfect, then you're nobody. Okay, but seriously: every person has flaws, and if you don't see any of yours, then you're not analyzing yourself as closely as you should.
- Make a list of your 10 biggest flaws. That's right. 10! Can you think of 10 things that need improvement? How about 15? This exercise isn't meant to make you feel bad about yourself; it's only meant to make you see that you have room for improvement.
- Think about all of the people you know. Can you name a single one who is perfect who isn't a movie star? And remember that even most movie stars have some flaws, however visibly small they may be.
3. Don't take it personally. If you want to know how to best deal with criticism, then you can't take it personally. If your boss says you've been a little less productive than usual lately, it's not because he thinks you're fat and lazy; it's because he wants you, his employee, to step up your game. If your best friend says that you have a tendency to zone out when she's talking to you, don't think that she's calling you a horrible friend and a zombie; she just wants you to communicate a little better.
- If the criticism is constructive, then it's intended to guide you and to help you improve as a person, not to bring you down and make you feel inadequate.
- If your teacher has given you rather critical feedback on a paper, it's not because she thinks you're stupid or annoying in class; it's because she thinks you have some work to do when it comes to making an argument.
4. Work on being less sensitive. If you always find yourself crying, getting defensive, and feeling generally upset when someone gives you what was supposed to be helpful feedback, then you have to start thickening your skin. Work on accepting your flaws and being able to hear about some areas where you can improve. If you never improve, then you'll be flat-lining, and you don't want that, do you? Try to focus on the message and its intention to help you instead of focusing on all of the "mean" or "hurtful" things that were said to you.
- Think about where the message is coming from. Chances are, your boss didn't just send you a terse email to be a jerk or to make you feel bad. He just probably wants you to do your job better.
- Control your emotions. You don't have to tear up every time someone says a negative word.
- Work on your reputation. If people think you are sensitive, they will be less likely to tell you the truth, and you don't want people to feel like they're walking around on eggshells whenever they talk to you.
Dealing with Constructive Criticism
1. Understand what you're really being told. If you want to deal with criticism, then you have to understand the message behind it. If you've determined that the criticism is meant to be constructive, then you have to break it down so you can start figuring out what to do next. Sometimes, you may be focused on the hurtful aspects of the feedback and your pride may be too wounded for you to see what is right in front of you.
- Sure, you weren't happy with the "C" on your English paper. But was your teacher trying to tell you that you were stupid and a horrible writer? Probably not. She wanted to tell you to research your argument more, and to use more concrete evidence to back up your claims. It also wouldn't have hurt to actually meet the word limit, would it?
- If your friend told you you're obsessed with yourself, sure that hurts. But could there be something helpful behind the message? Sure: your friend is telling you to be a little more empathetic, and to spend more time thinking about others and less time thinking about yourself.
2. See if there's some truth to it. If the feedback is coming from a person who has your best interest in mind, then you have to consider the possibility that there really is some truth to those words. It's even more likely if you've heard similar comments before. If ten people told you you were selfish, or if your last three girlfriends told you you were emotionally distant, then they can't all be wrong, can they? Take a moment to consider the possibility that this person is really on to something.
3. Make a game plan for addressing it. Okay, you've decided that your English teacher, boss, boyfriend, or best friend is completely right, or at least somewhat right. Now, you've got to write down the thing you need to work on, and make a plan for addressing it. This can take a long time, and it's never too late to start. Once you come up with a plan, a way of adjusting your expectations and actions, you can begin to address the criticism and become a better person.
- If your English teacher is right about you needing to do more research, then make a point of spending twice as much time reading up on your sources before you come up with an argument next time.
- If your boss tells you you're disorganized, work on organizing your desk, Inbox, and your spreadsheets until you feel more in control.
- If your boyfriend tells you you're too needy, work on giving him some space by spending more time alone or with your girlfriends.
4. Thank the person for being honest (if he's also being kind). If you have received some criticism that was delivered in a friendly and helpful way, or just in a way that was meant to be honest and clear, then take the time to thank the person and to say that you appreciate the fact that the person told you something that can make you an even better friend, girlfriend, student, or professional.
- Thanking people who give you honest criticism is also a sign of maturity. Suck it up and say "thank you" even if you're gritting your teeth.
5. Stop making excuses. If someone is giving you valid criticism, stop making excuses for why that person is completely wrong, especially if you know that there is some truth to what he or she is saying. If you get defensive and make excuses, then the person won't be able to finish telling you exactly what he or she means, and you won't get the information you need to really improve. It's natural that we feel defensive and get the feeling that we can do no wrong, but it's important to hear people out before you cut them off to prove you're perfect.
- If someone is in the middle of telling you something you can do to improve, don't say, "But actually, I already do that..." unless you feel like the person is really off base.
- If your teacher says you need to work harder, don't give her a lame excuse for why you've been slacking off. Instead, note the feedback and try to address it.
- It takes maturity to stay quiet instead of making excuses for why the person is wrong when you're getting valid feedback.
6. Remember that constructive criticism can make you a better person. Sure, it's tough to deal with even the most well-meaning criticism, especially if you're convinced you're perfect and that you can do no wrong. But if you're so invested in being an awesome person, then remind yourself that being aware of your flaws and shortcomings and making a plan for addressing them will make you an even more amazing person.
- The next time you hear some constructive criticism, embrace it! It's kind of like what Kelly Clarkson said: "Whatever (criticism) doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
Dealing with Destructive Criticism
1. Understand the person's true motives. If you have recognized the criticism as completely destructive and hurtful, then you can think about why the person might have said such a thing to make yourself feel better. Maybe the girl was jealous of your new outfit and said you dress like a skank. Maybe a guy said you're not a good writer because he's jealous that you just published a story. Maybe the person was just in a bad mood and felt like taking it out on someone. Whatever the reason, remind yourself that it had little to do with who you are.
- Put yourself in the person's shoes. Understand where he is really coming from. Though the words will still sting, it might make you feel better. If your coworker yelled at you for no reason, but you remember that he is going through a divorce, then you'll start to be a bit more understanding, won't you?
2. Look for the grain of truth. Okay, so maybe the criticism was delivered in a way that was completely mean, unnecessary, and hurtful, and most of the things that were said were way off base. Maybe your co-worker said you were "a complete mess" or your friend said you were "totally selfish" for what you think was no reason at all. Take a minute to think about it, though: do you need to brush up on your organizational skills? Have you been known to be a little selfish from time to time? If so, then maybe you should reconsider your actions without getting hurt by the way the criticism was given.
- Sure, it's very hard to take someone seriously if they are yelling at you, calling you names, or generally treating you with completely disrespect. This makes it nearly impossible to take a word they say seriously. But if you want to be the bigger person, try to find the underlying message if there is one.
3. Remember that words can never hurt you. What was that thing your mother told you about "sticks and stones" not being able to break your bones? Sure, you thought it was stupid in third grade, but now, you're a lot older, and it's starting to make sense. In the end, destructive criticism isn't made up of bullets, swords, or atomic bombs -- it's just a series of words connected together in a way designed to make you feel terrible. So, remind yourself that criticism only consists of a bunch of words.
- Criticism can't steal your money, slap you across the face, or crash your car. So don't let it get to you.
4. Stay confident. The most important thing you can do is maintain your confidence. No matter what people are saying about you, you have to stay strong, remember who you are, and not let other people influence your own self-worth. Being confident doesn't mean thinking that you're flawless, but it does mean loving who you are and how you look. If you're truly confident, then you won't let haters get you down and make you think less of yourself.
- If you're unhappy with who you are, ask yourself why. Make a list of a few things you don't like about yourself and figure out what you can change.
- Being confident also means accepting the things you cannot change about yourself. So, you don't like that you're so tall. Do you plan on slouching for the rest of your life, or will you start to love your long legs after all?
- Hanging out with people who make you feel good about yourself will also go a long way in making you feel more confident. If you're hanging with people who always bring you down, then yeah, you're not going to feel good about yourself.
5. Keep doing what you're doing. So...you've heard that someone said you're a brown-noser. Will you start participating less in class? Or your co-worker has told you you're too type A. Are you going to stop being who you are if it's working for you? Of course not. If you haven't received a valid criticism and know that what people are telling you is only being said because of jealousy, anger, or mean-spiritedness, then there's no need to change your routine to please people.
- If the criticism has no basis whatsoever, then the best thing you can do is to ignore it completely.
- Don't feel bad if you're not able to push all of these negative words aside right away. It takes practice to stop caring about what people think.