Written by the Renew & Revitalize Life Coaching Team
Whether warranted or not, the effects of criticism can be lasting and devastating. No one enjoys having their actions or words critiqued by others. Especially if done unexpectedly, in front of others, or with harsh language. There are ways to overcome this unpleasant experience with poise and composure. It takes some practice, but it can be done.
Tips on How to Handle Criticism
- Listen actively. Resist the tendency to block out comments that may feel biting or ill-natured. Even the most constructive criticism is hard to accept as positive. Listen closely and ask for clarification. This may be key in helping you use the information to your advantage. Repeat the message back to the criticizer. Ask for clear examples of what they are saying.
- Don’t take it personally. Although easier said than done, it is important to receive feedback as if it’s an opinion. Not all criticism is true. If you immediately get defensive about something someone says, the truth may become blurry. When you feel threatened, it’s normal to put up a wall. It’s easy to misunderstand what someone is trying to tell you if your guard is up in the process. Take a deep breath and relax. Allow the information to settle before making a response or taking it to heart.
- Assume good intentions. A perfect segue from ‘don’t take it personally’ is to assume all intentions are good. This just makes life easier, doesn’t it? Criticism will come from both trusted sources and perfect strangers. You decide who is worth listening to. A trusted friend, family member, or long-time coworker is going to want to see you flourish. Even if their feedback is hard to hear, it is important to receive it in a way that reminds you of this point. When it’s obvious that intentions are not innately good, simply let it go and move on. This type of feedback is not worth your time.
- Say thank you. Remember, most people who provide you with helpful or constructive feedback want to see you improve and reach your goals. Their critique may feel hurtful initially, but their intentions are good. Thank them! This simple and small gesture will not only make you feel better but will show gratitude to your judger as well. A little kindness can go a long way. Future criticism from this particular person may come across differently now because of the way you handle yourself. Also, consider that their comments may not have come easily for them to communicate. Offering gratitude is about more than good manners. It actually has a calculable effect.
Get Help When You Need It
Criticism may feel like someone just flagged all your weakest points, but it can also strengthen you as a whole if handled calmly and reasonably. Give yourself permission to use the feedback as a new perspective. The ability to see things in a different way and make changes in areas that will actually improve an outcome will provide long term benefits that far outlast the sting of negative critique.