Let’s face it: we all get criticized. It could come in the form of negative feedback at your job or in the form of a comment from others. No matter what, criticism isn’t pleasant and can be hard to take, especially if it is harsh. However, there are a few tips you can use to help lessen the negative feelings that come with criticism.
- Think before you react. It can be instinctive to react before thinking; however, our reactions sometimes cause more harm than good. Try to stay calm when being given criticism by taking deep breaths. Calmness helps you resist the urge to “fight back” and allows you more time to digest the feedback and consider your next actions.
- Another part of remaining calm is by listening to the feedback. Sometimes we will automatically become defensive when a person starts speaking. Be respectful and let a person finish what they are saying, before you jump in and jump to conclusions. Then, respond. It is important to be aware of whether or not you feel comfortable to respond at that time. There is no shame in asking for a moment or more, especially if the person who gave the criticism is close to you. All you need to do is tell them you need time to respond and will get back to them. If the person is a stranger you will not see again, don’t feel as if you need to respond or should take time. Just move on from that situation.
- Consider the areas for growth and/or positive takeaways from the comments. Hopefully, the intentions of the person are good and meant to help you learn something or better yourself, such as constructive comments coming from a friend, boss, or loved one. Not all criticism can be completely bad. For example, your boss may be informing you of what you can do better for the next time. It may be wise to take their suggestions into account, especially if you are working towards a promotion, etc.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone is a learner and can make mistakes. Change your mindset to begin seeing criticism as a learning experience. Use what you are told and learn from it. Don’t be stubborn and refuse to listen to criticism. It might provide an opportunity to better yourself. Also, do something nice for yourself when you have received a negative feedback. Self-care is very important to remember.
- Understand if the feedback is constructive or destructive, such as an attack towards you. Unfortunately, criticism can be given with the sole intention of being hurtful. Some ways to tell the difference between the two is if the criticism is overly negative, personally attacking you and/or your loved ones, comments about things that are not your fault or outside of your control and delivered in an abusive, unpleasant manner. Once you differentiate the type of criticism you are being given, you’ll be better able to form an appropriate response. Keep in mind—you don’t need to respond to or put up with a personal attack. Maintain your limits. Sometimes walking away without saying a word is the best reply in these situations.
- If appropriate, thank a person for their feedback. Going back to a person’s point in giving the criticism, if their comments are helpful, thank them for giving you that piece of advice and for taking an interest in your success.
- Don’t make an excuse for a mistake or reason for the feedback. If you know there is truth to the criticism and what the person is saying, listen, and own up to your actions. Also, prevent yourself from making excuses for improving from the observations. Take the time to listen and make a plan for how you’ll use the information to improve.
Criticism can be hard to take, no matter what. However, by using these tips, it can be easier to set boundaries when necessary and learn from constructive criticism when appropriate.