Criticism is part of life.
Everyone gets a dose from time to time. Have you experienced someone’s version of constructive criticism that felt more hurtful than helpful? No doubt, even constructive criticism can sting.
If the intent was to be productive, and frankly even if it wasn’t from the purest of hearts, we can always find ways to respond positively and grow from the encounter.
Here are a few foundational points to consider before responding:
1. Resist the temptation to counter-attack.
Humans feel before they think. This can get us in trouble, so while it may feel good at the moment, reacting with a with a clever or snarky come-back is simply throwing gasoline on a fire. Instead, focus on the facts not the hurtful feelings their words evoke.
Keep your emotions in check, practice patience and mindfulness in order to respond rather than react. When you do, you stand to learn more about yourself, the situation at hand and the person delivering the criticism.
2. Consider the source.
Is the criticism coming from a person whose opinion you value? Is it coming from someone who regularly criticizes others or feels they know everything? If it is the latter, you can easily and comfortably evaluate their criticism without taking it personally.
Try not to dismiss it completely before giving their comments some thought — even those people are right now and then so look for any morsel of truth or benefit before letting it go. If it is from someone you respect, examine the content to discern the wisdom in their words.
Sometimes it is harder but quite valuable to accept criticism from someone who you respect because even constructive criticism from these sources can diminish your confidence. By detaching yourself from the emotion and looking only at the facts, you are better able to decide if the advice or criticism is warranted, you stay in control of your responses and learn valuable insight.
3. Don't let your insecurities come out to play.
Resist the temptation to unleash your inner critic or allow it to chime in and unearth your fears with choruses of “I knew I wasn’t good enough.”
Instead, separate yourself from the emotion long enough to evaluate the message to see if there’s anything you can learn about yourself or the situation.
Remind yourself of your best talents and reframe the criticism as an opportunity to better yourself. Beating yourself up benefits no one.
4. Stay open and respectful.
Ask questions for clarity on their feedback. If instead you become defensive, the sender will quickly sense your hurt feelings and likely back off, soften or even change the message which can obscure any beneficial advice they intended. Allow yourself time to cool off so you can be more objective.
There is always something to learn but remember that criticism is only one person’s point of view. If you stay mindful of your strengths and not dwell on the criticism, it is much easier to continue to forge forward armed with greater knowledge and determination.
About the Author
Linda Mitchell, a Professional Transformational Coach, is the founder of Linda Mitchell Coaching and Healing. She has been coaching and practicing in the healing arts for over 20 years, operating from a deep desire to empower people to move through life’s many challenges and transitions with ease and grace. Her unique “Reinvention Program” helps people reclaim balance, and better health and gain clarity on their next steps in order to define, create and truly live the life they desire.