Not always to be honest. I’m a tad sensitive to criticism, as it can put me on the defensive. I think it is partly due to the fact that I am always striving to do things exceptionally well, so getting criticized means that I have not measured up to my own expectations or to the expectations of others. But I am also aware that who is doing the criticizing plays a role in how I react. I am not keen on family members criticizing me, as there is the emotional element attached to that. If friends or business acquaintances are critical of me, the initial sting is still there, but I then push myself to react differently. I want to see if there is any merit to the criticism so that I can benefit from it or use it to repair or improve a situation or relationship.
“Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” ~Aristotle
Let’s face it, being criticized is part of life. We can’t please everyone and who would want to anyway. Aristotle sure knew what he was talking about. If we live life according to our beliefs and wants and desires, we will inevitably step on some toes.
Some Tips on Handling Criticism
• Step back and give yourself time to reflect upon what was said.
• See if the criticism is about you or really about the other person. What might be going on in their life that would precipitate their negativity?
• Figure out if the criticism is valid feedback or simply someone being nasty or negative.
• If the criticism comes via e-mail, don’t respond right away. Give yourself time so you can respond without emotion. Remember, e-mail is forever.
• If you are criticized at work, get curious instead of irritated. Ask questions that will provide valuable information.
• When being criticized, really listen to what is being said.
• Figure out if the criticism is actual or about some unresolved issue.
• If a criticism is about something minor, take a deep breath and let it go.
“Criticism like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” ~ Frank A. Clark
Some Benefits of Criticism
• Think of criticism as an opportunity to change your perspective and turn it into something positive.
• See if there is any truth to the criticism. If so, how can you benefit from what has been said?
• Consider criticism as a chance to see things from someone else’s point of view.
• Use criticism as an opportunity to practice not getting defensive.
Ponder This: What if we use criticism as an opportunity to observe how people relate to us and to see the impact we have on those around us? There is a gift in every negative. You just have to dig deep enough to find it.