Does your day gets derailed by a sassy comment or ill-received piece of feedback? If so, you’re not alone; many are affected by criticism. The world is against self-esteem, and it will take a lot of energy and time to convince yourself that it is okay to be YOU.
Criticism refers to good and lousy evaluation or judgment that is based on specific standards. It affects our values. Everyone faces criticism at some point in their lives. We might try to avoid it because it can feel uncomfortable, unpleasant and often quite personal.
No one is perfect. So, not only is criticism a possibility any time we do or say anything, if delivered and taken in the right way, constructive criticism can be a gift. It can help us learn, grow and improve. Constructive criticism can be beneficial for everyone involved. It can help bridge the gaps in our knowledge, skills, and experience. It can also be a way for us to learn and improve.
The important thing when receiving criticism is, therefore, how we react to it.
Here are some tips to help respond effectively to criticism:
If you tend to become angry or defensive when faced with criticism, you are much less likely to be able to listen and understand what’s being said. The more emotional we are, the more limited our thinking becomes, and the more questionable our reactions are. Try taking a few deep breaths and pause before responding. If your anger or emotion doesn’t abate, it may be helpful to take some time out until you can approach things more calmly. Ask if you can reschedule the conversation for another time.
It can feel very uncomfortable to hear criticism and you may feel like withdrawing and dismissing what the other person is saying, but try your best to remain objective and open to their comments and feedback and avoid interrupting them. By really listening to what they say, you give yourself the best chance to understand the criticism and you’re much less likely to misinterpret it or jump to the wrong conclusions.
It is important to assess if the criticism has any truth. Whilst criticism might hurt more coming from someone you trust, they are likely to know you well and be less likely to want to criticize you for no good reason and so you may be more open to their comments than someone who doesn’t know you well. Some people are, by their nature, very critical about everything and you may want to take their criticism with a pinch of salt.
Don’t be Tempted to Criticize Back
You will miss an opportunity to learn and improve if you react defensively. Answering criticism with another criticism is not usually helpful. Even if you are offended and feel the critic is at fault, criticizing them is likely just to inflame the situation and cause it to escalate.
Come to a Resolution
Once you have received and understood the criticism, and you have assessed that it is genuine and constructive, seek to address any issues or concerns that have been raised. This might mean explaining a misunderstanding, acknowledging you made a mistake and apologizing, or accepting the criticism is valid and resolving to make necessary changes and improvements in the future.
If, on the other hand, you don’t believe the criticism is deserved or you feel it is destructive, end the conversation politely and take time out to reflect. You may want to speak to others who know you well and whose opinion you value, to sound out the feedback and whether there is any truth to it.
Learning from Mistakes and Experience
Whilst not all feedback and criticism will be well founded, it is important to recognize that you cannot learn anything new without practicing, making mistakes and sometimes failing. Viewing these experiences and any constructive criticism that comes with them as an opportunity can help you to avoid taking the criticism too personally and enable you to respond positively and to take action.
Consider the Suggestions not the Tone of the Feedback
Understand that some people may have valuable critical suggestions, but their tone and style of speaking may hamper the way you receive it. For those reasons, it is better to respond to the feedback and not their confrontational manner. Therefore, detach the two items and focus on the useful suggestions.
Speak Your Side of Story
Tell the critic how you feel about the issue at hand. It is essential to maintain peace with people; however, being overly accommodating to avoid conflict at cost is not the only way out. You can use tact and appropriate timing to speak up your mind. Thus, speak up when you get a chance of being heard for even difficult things can be voiced with kindness.
Wear a smile even if it’s a false one, for this will help you to relax. A smile will create a positive feeling and lighten the situation. Thus, a smile helps you psychologically and motivate the critic to be moderate in their approach.
Be Compassionate to Yourself
Be kind to yourself whenever you receive destructive feedback. Give yourself positive self-talk and a treat. Tell yourself that the criticism hurts, but the thoughts doesn’t define you.
Allow Your Feeling
At times feeling hurt or angry is inevitable, and burying your feeling is not helpful. Therefore, speak up or write your feelings; however, let them out creatively and move on.
None of us enjoy getting criticized. It’s human nature to enjoy being right and feel a sense of hurt when we’re wrong. The thing is, we all need criticism. Although we’re generally drawn to like-minded people, those who disagree with us truly help us grow. The ones who call us out, point out our weaknesses and flaws. Yes, the ones who challenge us make us better.
So, it is essential to learn how to address and filter criticism to live a happier life. Nobody is perfect; we won’t always respond in the best way possible. But if you work at controlling yourself and your emotions, every situation becomes a chance to learn and grow.
Department of English
University of Development Alternative
Founder and Chairperson of Set to Success
Tahsina Shabnam is a Senior Lecturer of Department of English at University of Development Alternative with over eight years of experience now. She is the Founder and Chairperson of Set to Success. She is inspired daily by her husband in her work. In her free time, Tahsina likes to draw, paint and work with graphic design.