“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”
Unless you plan to hide inside your home 24/7, you are going to have to deal with criticism every now and then. But make no mistake about it, even if you managed to stay in your house, you would probably still be criticized. You just wouldn’t know about it for a while. Criticism is a part of everyone’s life. Unfortunately, and perhaps sadly, the more significant your accomplishments, the more criticism you will likely have to face.
If you can learn to deal with criticism well, your life will be a lot easier. It should also easier to move forward toward your dreams and goals. Since you’re going to be criticized regardless, it is best to have a prepared strategy in mind for handling your censorious critics and what they say about you.
1. Take a deep breath. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to see something objectively when you’re not emotionally involved and all charged up? This is one of the reasons why it is frequently easier to seek and see clear solutions to your friend’s challenges more easily than your own. So take a moment, and get as calm as you can before you respond to criticism.
Learning to calm yourself down is a skill that you can develop and strengthen with practice. Learn about meditation or other relaxation techniques that can help you get calm quickly. You must first learn how to stay calm in your day-to-day life before you can expect to be able to stay calm in more emotionally intense moments.
2. Ask yourself, “Is it possible this person is right?” Once you have calmed down and are in a good mental place, ask yourself if they might have a legitimate concern or criticism. No one is perfect, so it’s perfectly natural to be wrong about some things.
3. Thank them. This is absolutely the best way to disarm your critics. Simply thank them for the critique. After all, they could have done a lot of other things with their time, but they chose to spend it on you. It really is a compliment if you look at it from the right perspective.
4. Move on. Regardless of whether the criticism was accurate or not, you should move on. After you have gained as much insight as possible from the interaction, simply let it go. Focus on your next task. Avoid wasting time looking backward. Don’t beat yourself up or down trying to relive the past. Go forward.
If they were correct: If the criticism was accurate, look into better ways to do things the next time. It might take some time, but it is wholly worthwhile to ensure that you don’t make the same mistake two or three times. Once you have an improved course of action for next time, get on with the rest of your life.
If they were wrong: If after contemplating the criticism you determine they were incorrect, then simply forget it and move on. There is no reason to dwell on it any longer than it takes to determine if there is some validity to it.
Think about the most successful people you know and notice how they make it a habit to move on quickly. After all, they have more important things to do than stagnate and wallow. And so do you!
5. Positive reinforcement. Every time you receive criticism and handle it appropriately, take a moment to congratulate yourself. Celebrate your success. Any behavior that is rewarded is more likely to occur again in the future. Be proud that you had so much control over yourself and were even able to gain something positive from the experience.
Everyone faces criticism from a variety of sources on a regular basis. It is very challenging to receive criticism gracefully, but there is almost always an opportunity to gain something from it. Learn what you can from the interaction. Try using some of these steps to learn to handle criticism with class and grace. After you have calmly and carefully considered the criticism, you are free to either adjust your strategy or simply dismiss it. Then, you can let it go and move right on to the next item in your life. And, always remember to reward yourself afterward!
What would you add to this list to help learn to work through criticisms more constructively?