Life is a journey, with stopovers, towards a designed destination and there are a must-face issues that are inescapable. Just like death in the journey of life, criticism is a must-prepare for occurrence in one’s life. Criticism hurts. It can come from a a friend or from a perfect stranger with an ideology and a loud opinion. It can be about your work, your writing, your looks, your personality……[endless list it is.] It can ruin a whole day and topple self-esteem.
It’s easy to be defensive when on the receiving end of such criticism. When we fear the judgment of others, both hurtful words and helpful critiques alike can seem like bitter condemnation.
It’s impossible to control what a person will say, but it is possible to be in control of the way you internalize, process, and react to criticism. Trying this out could be the game-changer:
- Step back from the situation: Your first instinct might be to immediately respond or defend yourself, but resist the urge; delay your response until you’ve gathered your thoughts. By allowing your emotions to run their course before addressing the situation, you prevent yourself from acting defensively or saying something you may regret later. If you receive a critical comment, allow yourself some good amount of time before you respond. If the criticism occurs in person, respond graciously with a polite but twisted response, like, “I appreciate the input! It gives me something to think about.” Address the issue again after you’ve had a bit of time (and space) to think about it.
- Consider the Source and the Value of the Criticism: There are two types of criticism;
constructive and destructive. Constructive criticism comes from a positive place and is meant to help you better yourself. Destructive criticism is meant only to tear you down. It can be harder than you might think to discern between the two. Not all constructive criticism is delivered gently and not all destructive criticism is delivered harshly. Set aside the tone and focus on what is actually being said: is there something to be learned from the critique or are they just useless, hurtful words?
Another tip to help you discern the helpful from the hurtful? Consider the source of the criticism. Is it coming from a faceless, nameless stranger? A teacher or a co-worker who respects you? Or just somebody who is hell-bent to destroy you? Take the time to ask yourself whether or not the opinion of the person criticizing you is worth worrying about. Once you’ve identified criticism as destructive rather than constructive, it becomes easier to forget about it and continue going about your business of being awesome.
- Understand That You Can’t Please Everybody: That being said, you might just take time to think about it and find that you still disagree with the criticism offered. If that is the case, stick to your guns and politely continue to go about doing what you’re doing. It is impossible to please everybody, and at one point or another you’ll need to decide what feels right to you and go with it. I believe in the person who once penned the wise words, “The haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…” and let me tell you, that guy was on point.
- Respond With Grace:
Destructive criticism never warrants a response. Quickly click “delete” on hateful comments that benefit no one and wash your hands of that negativity. Constructive criticism, however, should be addressed respectfully once you’re ready to do so. Thank the person for their input and then agree or disagree as you see fit, taking the time to politely explain your reasoning, if necessary. You have the power to turn these critiques into learning experiences or opportunities for valuable discussion…use it! All said and done, the only constructive criticism worth addressing is one put directly to your face, not one behind the back. Have no time to listen to petty and ridiculous slander. Choose to press forward, not fall into the vindictive trap of retaliation. Choose to take the high road.