Dealing with Criticism Correctly

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Dealing with criticism. We all have to. Period. It’s another fact of life - someone, somewhere, isn’t going to like something that you do and will let you know as quick as they possibly can.

Your goal is to learn how to deal with criticism correctly. Whether it is true, helpful criticism, or just random ugly stuff, you need to figure out the best way to respond to it so that you won’t have low self esteem issues or have it lead to self-depreciation.

There are times when we actually need positive constructive criticism. But, just because we need it, or because we have actually asked for it....doesn’t make it easy to receive.

Then there is the criticism that isn’t necessarily asked for. The type that is freely given! The person may be helpful in their criticism, but since it wasn’t asked for, or wanted, then we don’t want to take the time to hear it.

And lastly, there is criticism that isn’t asked for and may totally be inappropriate. This is usually the hardest for anyone to handle correctly. After all, it can be hard to listen to and then to let someone know that their assessment of the situation is way off.

There aren’t many people that like to be corrected, or critiqued. It shows our imperfections and our limitations. It makes us feel vulnerable and can bring out a defensive behavior towards the ones criticizing, especially when the criticism wasn’t wanted.

When we struggle with low self esteem issues any criticism can be taken as an personal assault. The goal you may need to have is in handling each type correctly, while avoiding low self esteem. If you work on this, it will greatly benefit you, as it is one of the more important self improvement resources you can give yourself. After all, you really want to get to the point where you can trust yourself to handle situations correctly and not constantly be running around looking for different ways of coping.

When you receive criticism, whether you asked for it or not, stop and listen. Really, listen to what they are trying to say, from their point of view, without being defensive. This, for me, as for most people, is the hardest to do.

Quite a few people tend to take criticism as a personal attack! Keep in mind that they are not criticizing you personally. (It may also help to change your self talk from criticizing to critiquing.... same meaning, but brings on a different attitude).

Emotional insecurity can play a part in how we handle criticism. If we are insecure to begin with, it doesn’t take much to tip the scales. Many creative people bottle up their talent because they cannot find ways of dealing with criticism.

This also goes with people dealing with a bad body image, or self-deprecation. These are low self esteem issues that can be magnified because they are not properly dealing with criticism.

Once you separate what is being criticize from yourself, you can better handle the comments. When you feel like you are being attacked, the usual response is to fight back. This isn’t the best time for that. That is why I recommended that you first listen, then say nothing while you digest what is being said.

It may be that you need a few seconds to understand what was said, or you may need to think on it overnight. What ever the situation, let the person know that you heard them and that you will take some time to think on what they have suggested. Communication is the key here.

The next step is to do what needs to be done, depending on the type of advice given. If the criticism was warranted, make the changes needed and thank the person for their help. If the advice was off base, then still thank the person for their input, and continue on doing what you are doing. (But, if you are dealing with a supervisor, you may need to just suck it up and do what they say, no matter if they were correct or not. That’s the tricky part, and each job situation will be handled differently.)

Lastly, there are times when people will come up to you and dish out unwanted, negative criticism for no other reason than to ruin someones day. You need to quickly identify that particular situation and that type of person, and then just smile and walk away. Seriously, leave it totally alone. No justifying, or trying to appease, just leave the situation and the person alone.

A final bit of advice for dealing with criticism, or any situation that has you in an emotional state. Do not react or make a decision about it for 36 hours. I read this statement in a book years ago and it has been excellent advice for me. 36 hours. A day and a half. This gives your emotions time to settle down and you can then better look at the situation and what may need to be done.

Dealing with criticism isn't necessarily easy, but it can be done if you follow some of the tips above and remember not to take it as a personal attack.

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