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Being criticized never feels good. It can make you feel judged, as though you’re not good enough no matter how hard you try. Most people’s reaction to criticism is to get defensive, make excuses, or blame someone else. None of those options are especially constructive.
It’s up to you how you choose to react to criticism. You can see it as a personal attack, or you can embrace it, get the positives out of it, and move on.
If you feel skeptical about criticism having any benefits, here are some excellent reasons why you should embrace it.
Often, criticism has more than a grain of truth in it, even if it’s delivered a bit harshly. That’s partly why it makes you uncomfortable—deep down it rings true, even if you don’t want to admit it.
Think of criticism as another element in your personal development toolbox, one that offers insight you might otherwise miss.
If nothing else, observing and managing how you react to criticism can shine a spotlight on your triggers, your unconscious reactions, and assumptions.
Criticism usually comes laden with emotions. You feel shamed, upset, and attacked. Learning to embrace criticism can help you become more emotionally resilient as you learn how to sit with your uncomfortable emotions instead of blindly reacting.
Practicing detachment takes you to a mental place where you can use your problem-solving skills. You can listen, assess, analyze, and work out what lessons to take away from the experience.
Embracing criticism can also help you step away from needing other people’s approval to feel good about yourself. Once you see criticism as potentially helpful feedback, it stops being a judgment of you as a person.
Once you stop reacting (or over-reacting) to feedback, you allow more space for openness, honesty, and better communication. People can talk to you about problems without feeling they have to walk on eggshells.
Embracing criticism makes for much better relationships as there are fewer barriers or ‘no go’ areas.
You don’t want to be seen as prickly, difficult, or defensive, nor do you want to have your self-worth depend on other people’s good opinion of you.
Embracing criticism will free you from the curse of perfectionism. You can accept that making mistakes is human, and that being criticized is actually okay, even helpful.
Accept that criticism is part of everyday life and you’ll be more confident, happier, and freed up to be your best you.
Constructive criticism is fine, but some people who are so relentlessly negative that they can suck the joy out of life. No matter what happy news you might have, they are guaranteed to find the cloud to fit your silver lining.
Here are 6 strategies you can use to deal with hypercritical people.
It’s a safe bet that it’s not you, it’s them. Some people just hug their negativity around them like a security blanket, and it colors their view of the world. They criticize everything because that suits them. Watch how they treat other people.
It’s all but guaranteed they criticize everybody, not just you.
Is the person obscuring the message? Maybe your critical colleague or friend is tactless, or bad at expressing themselves rather than being mean.
Try to see past the messenger to understand what is really being said, otherwise you might miss out on some valuable advice.
You can decide to take crucial feedback on its own merits. That is, as a source of honest feedback. At least with hypercritical people what you see is what you get! If you can see past the blunt delivery, you may be able to find a kernel of truth that can improve the way you do things.
Criticism never feels good. Try to read your own discomfort as another source of information about what is being said.
Does the negative feedback trigger a recognition deep within you? Maybe it subconsciously reminds you of a past event, but maybe there’s a ring of truth in the criticism.
Sit with your discomfort and see what it’s telling you.
If you can’t stand being criticized, then it’s up to you not to get into situations with people who are likely to criticize you.
Don’t ask for advice or expose yourself to their negativity. They’re not likely to change, so you need to take control and avoid such conversations.
Don’t share good news if you know they’ll throw cold water on it.
Don’t seek their praise if you know you won’t get it.
You have a choice about how to deal with negative people. You can decide not to engage with their negativity, you can ignore them, or you can just avoid them altogether.
If you must have contact with a negative person at work, for example, be helpful but don’t engage with them.
It’s up to you whether you want to have any contact with such negativity, or not.
Wise people have learned how to handle criticism. They deal with it like any other feedback, calmly and judiciously. They try and see how they can use it to get ahead and meet their goals.
Many people, however; find it hard not to react defensively or angrily. Some people even launch a counterattack and shift the blame to the critic. That behavior doesn’t win you any friends or help you get ahead.
Criticism is a fact of life, and the sooner you learn to handle it positively, the better you can use that feedback for your own success.
Here are some tips:
You will feel the reaction in your body before you can get the words out.
And that is where you must stop.
Don’t do anything, just breathe and take a moment to calm your defenses. Chances are, the other person won’t notice a thing, but it will give you time to compose yourself.
Your composure time gives you a chance to remember that this criticism is an opportunity to learn something, possibly something valuable.
Say to yourself, “This is not personal,” and repeat it as often as you need to until your initial reaction has passed.
Feedback time is not a time to talk, it’s a time to listen.
Try to understand what the other person is saying. Maybe it’s an aspect of your project or goal that you haven’t thought of yet. What initially feels like criticism may offer valuable insight.
Repeat back what you heard and seek clarification if you need to. This is not a time to analyze or push back, it’s a time to understand precisely what is being said.
Even if it makes you cringe inside, say thank you for the feedback. You don’t have to agree with what they’ve said to be sincerely appreciative of the input. After all, they took the time to say what they thought and give you some advice.
You may need some time to do this, or you might be able to do it on the spot. If your emotions are running high, it’s probably better to take a break and come back to deal with what has been said. Otherwise, it’s fine to ask questions to clarify the feedback, and maybe seek their suggestions on how to move forward.
Learning to deal constructively with criticism and feedback is an important skill, and one you will be glad you learned sooner rather than later.
Criticism can be painful. It can feel like an attack, and your natural reaction is to be defensive, maybe even to lash out.
Most people find criticism hard to deal with but learning how not to take criticism personally can make life a whole lot easier.
It can be easier not to react emotionally to criticism if you reframe it as feedback. Probably, it wasn’t intended as a personal slight, much less an attack on you.
Try to see critiques as an opportunity to learn how to do things better next time. Think of it as a prompt to grow and use it to course correct.
Before you react to a terse email or a grouchy response from your boss, try to remember that you don’t know where they’re coming from.
You might be reaping the effect of a bad day, a string of frustrations, or even the reaction to their own bad feedback.
Your immediate reaction to being criticized is likely to push back defensively. Instead, take a breath (or three), pause, and reflect before you respond.
Just because someone has criticized you or your work, that doesn’t mean there may not be at least a grain of truth in there. Take another look at what your critic is saying and see what you can learn once you’ve allowed some time for your initial emotions to dissipate.
Reacting to criticism is a habit like any other behavior, and you have the capacity to change it.
Try to focus on the positive.
Ask yourself what you can learn from it or how you can help the critic. Maybe they misunderstood? Perhaps your communication wasn’t clear enough?
Practice processing feedback in a constructive way, and you will stop dreading it in the future.
There’s no getting around it, being the recipient of criticism can feel pretty crappy, but be kind to yourself, especially while you’re learning to handle criticism differently.
Acknowledge the emotions that have been evoked. Accept that being criticized can hurt. Then distract yourself from those feelings by take a break and doing something that feels good, whether it’s walking in the park, seeing a movie with a friend, or just grabbing a coffee.
Remove yourself from the situation so you can get over the emotions and be in a better place to deal with it when you get back.
Learning to take criticism gracefully will stand you in good stead. People will admire you for not stooping to arguing or engaging with negativity.
As a bonus, you’ll feel better about yourself too!
It hurts to be called out, whether it’s for a mistake, a flaw, or a weakness. After all, you do your best, you work hard, and you always try to get it right. Everyone makes mistakes or missteps. Everyone has things they’re not so good at, so criticism is inevitable.
The secret lies in how you handle it. You can choose to be reactive and angry, or you decide to handle it in a much more emotionally intelligent way.
Emotional intelligence means you recognize and acknowledge your emotions, and you know how to handle them.
Here are five ways people with emotional intelligence don’t react when they are criticized.
It’s natural to react to criticism by trying to make yourself a smaller target by saying it wasn’t really such a big deal.
Don’t make that your first reaction.
Give yourself some time to analyze whether or not the criticism is valid. If someone thought the issue was important enough to mention, there might be something in there for you to learn from.
Trying to bluster through criticism will just show that you are thin-skinned or that you’re not that interested in doing a good job.
You don’t want to be the person everyone has to tip-toe around in case they upset you.
If you made a mistake, own it. Don’t try to talk your way around it or deny it. Just face it, fix it, learn from it, and move on.
Similarly, don’t try to blandish your way through by rationalizing. People see right through that, and they won’t respect you for it. And it doesn’t address the main issue.
Keep your eye on what really matters, what you’re trying to achieve, and how to get there. See the criticism as helpful instructions on changing course.
Taking responsibility for your mistakes is what adults do. Kids and teenagers will often try to shift the blame onto someone else – the old ‘my dog ate my homework’ excuse.
Emotionally intelligent adults own up to their responsibilities, including mistakes and failures.
How you handle a crisis is an opportunity to be a better person. Swallow your medicine and acknowledge what went wrong.
Try seeing it as a learning opportunity and a chance to work through the issue. Instead of reacting defensively, ask your critics for advice on how to do better.
Sometimes your most brutal critics can be the people you love. Your parent, siblings, spouse, children—you know, the people who should be supporting you, right? Instead, you get the most unvarnished, unsweetened criticism about your clothes, your choice in partners, your job.
So, what can you do when it feels like you’re putting yourself in front of a firing squad over family dinner?
It can help to change your perspective on your family’s criticism.
Maybe they don’t think you’re a terrible person or a failure. Perhaps they care enough about you to want the best for you. Sometimes worries or concern can come out as criticism even if the person didn’t mean it that way.
Reframe those hurtful words as a sign that your family member really cares about you.
Not all caring feels warm and fuzzy. As strange as it may seem, your mom probably has no idea that it hurts when she calls out your life choices or criticizes your own parenting.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is calmly tell the other person how their criticism makes you feel.
Say you value their advice, but perhaps they could be more positive and helpful in the way they deliver it. Ask for concrete suggestions.
Families are supposed to love each other no matter what, but sometimes people forget that. They think it doesn’t matter how they talk to their child or their sibling, and the niceties of politeness fall by the wayside.
Remind your critic that harsh criticism is not loving.
Sometimes parents forget their grown-up children are adults, not kids anymore. Adults make their own mistakes and take responsibility for their actions and life decisions.
Usually, they don’t need the guidance or advice from their parents unless they ask for it.
Maybe your folks need a gentle reminder that you’re independent and grown-up now.
Be clear about your boundaries and that whatever your circumstances, your job, house, partner, or debts are, they’re your choices, and you will have to deal with the consequences.
You don’t have to meekly take your family’s criticism.
You can choose to take on their negativity or not. Loving families accept everyone for who they are.
If you aren’t getting the respect you deserve, even after implementing the steps above, maybe it’s best to limit how much time you spend with your family critics.
It can be difficult dealing with criticism from your nearest and dearest, especially when that critic is your partner.
Sometimes spousal criticism can be rooted in false expectations of human nature, on either side. Everyone makes mistakes and has bad days. The problem starts when negativity and unrealistic expectations become the pattern for your relationship.
Or when you start depending on your spouse’s good opinion and approval for your own feelings of self-worth. That’s just a recipe for being unhappy, for both of you.
No matter how much you love one another, there will be some degree of criticism in a relationship.
To make the best of it, and maybe even help make it stronger, try these four tactics the next time your spouse offers you criticism.
See the criticism as an indication of what’s going on with your spouse, not necessarily something you’ve done wrong.
Maybe they’ve had a bad day, or they’re worried about something. Negative vibes or outright criticism can be a reaction to other stuff that’s happening for them, and they’re paying it forward.
Try to stay detached, especially if they are seriously upset. Give them some time to cool off and then broach the subject so you can work it out together.
The worst thing you can do is to have a knee-jerk reaction, whether it’s angrily defending yourself or turning the criticism back on them.
That’s just creating conflict and won’t get you anywhere close to a resolution. It also ups the emotional ante and paves the way for a full-on argument.
Indeed, instead of reacting, respond instead.
Instead of fighting back, try to stay calm and tell your partner how their criticism makes you feel.
Probably they had no intention of hurting your feelings. You can stop the blame cycle by each taking responsibility for your own emotions.
If your partner is angry, it’s clearly not a good time to talk through their issues. Make it clear that you will speak to them when they’ve calmed down. There’s no need to stay in the firing line.
Taking time out also allows you to regulate your own emotions and work out a strategy to deal with your partner’s criticism. There could even be something in what they say, but you need to be able to depersonalize the issue before you discuss it.
A healthy relationship can take some criticism. The important thing is to maintain your separate identities within the relationship and to be able to deal with issues as a team. Many relationships would be better if each person realised they were on the same side.
It can be harsh hearing criticism from your own children. After all, aren’t they supposed to be taking their cues from you? Aren’t you their role model?
When your children are little, you are the most important person in their life. They look up to you, depend on you. As they grow older, they grow into being their own separate individuals and start to differentiate themselves from you.
Even if you know it’s all part of raising children who can stand on their own two feet, hearing criticism from the child who once thought you were their hero can be challenging.
Here are 5 lessons you can learn about handling criticism from your children.
A common theme here, for sure, but sometimes your child’s criticism is also valuable feedback on your parenting.
Instead of reacting from the place of “Always Right Parent”, try listening to what they’re really saying. Maybe you’re not treating them in an age-appropriate way anymore. Maybe their needs have changed.
Being a parent doesn’t make you a demi-god. It’s okay for your kid to call you out sometimes. Let go of your ego and see if there is truth in their criticism.
If your kid’s criticism is a bit too blunt, even rude, this is an opportunity to teach them about how to give constructive criticism.
There are ways of providing advice that stay respectful and positive, and that’s a great life lesson for your child.
Like so many other things, your children can learn how to offer constructive criticize from your example. So, take a look at how you speak to your child. Is it positive, supportive, and respectful? Is yelling involved?
Your kids internalize your values, your ways of interacting with people, and your patterns of behavior. Make sure you are setting a good example.
However you deal with your child’s criticism, you need to stay in the adult role. You are still the parent, and they are still the kid. What you say goes while they’re under your roof.
So, while you should stay calm and respectful in how you deal with your child’s criticisms, don’t give up the parent role.
Keep the parent/child boundaries clear and firm. Don’t allow rudeness or criticizing you in public. Don’t give up your power. Above all, set the tone for a relationship based on love, acceptance, and respect.
If you really want to get ahead, there is a crucial skill to master: The art of receiving criticism well.
Giving and receiving criticism and feedback can happen anywhere and at any moment, such as your workplace, and it is not often talked about, or included, in workplace training.
But the sooner you can reframe criticism as feedback the better you will be able to profit from it.
Remember, there is constructive criticism, and there is ill-intentioned, destructive criticism that is meant to hurt.
Differentiating between the two allows us to learn to accept well-meant, constructive criticism, and use it as a tool for personal growth.
And ignore the other. It’s only their opinion, they’re probably toxic anyway and are part of that strangely wired group of people that receive a dopamine release when they witness the misery of others. We don’t need, nor should we even want, approval from people like that.
Remember to do you, not someone else.
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