How do I handle criticism?

Some background, some drama

Criticism is never fun, whether it's coming from your well-meaning parents, your friend or even a stranger. If the criticism is meant to be constructive, then you can use it to become a better person. But if it's only meant to harm you, then you can work on shaking it off like a bad habit.

Do’s and Don’ts

When people speak kind words we feel happy. When people criticise we feel miserable. However, if we only received insincere praise and false flattery, how would we ever make progress? The “How Do I" series tries to list down a few Do’s and don’ts to guide and help you to handle criticism.

Do’s

  • Know the difference between destructive and constructive criticism. This is the first step to being able to deal with criticism, especially when the person has your best interests in mind.
  • Accept that you're not perfect. This is a great way to deal with criticism.
  • Remember that through constructive criticism we have the opportunity to learn and improve from suggestions.
  • Respond only to the suggestions not the tone of the criticism. Detach their emotion and anger from the useful suggestions which lie underneath.
  • Value criticism, not just praise. If we wish to improve and develop we should invite constructive criticism and appreciate suggestions.
  • Ignore False Criticism. Remain aloof and ignore it completely.
  • Work on being less sensitive. Work on accepting your flaws and being able to hear about some areas where you can improve.
  • Make a plan for addressing constructive criticism to become a better person.

Dont’s

  • Don’t take it personally. When people criticise us directly, they are not criticising our real self but only an aspect of ourselves.
  • Don’t respond immediately. If we respond with feelings of anger or injured pride we will soon regret it. If we wait patiently it can enable us to reflect in a calmer way.
  • Don’t spend more time dwelling about what someone said. Instead do something about it. Either accept it as constructive criticism or ignore it.
  • Don’t make excuses. If someone is giving you valid criticism, stop making excuses for why that person is completely wrong.
  • Don’t get defensive. It’s important to hear people out before you cut them off to prove you're perfect.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Sometimes it’s important to learn to let go of the small things in life which are insignificant.

Last words

Nobody likes being criticised but, unfortunately it is a fact of life. To be able to respond to criticism with detachment is an important life skill, which few people have. If we respond to criticism without careful consideration, it can easily lead to unnecessary suffering. We are all perfectly imperfect and other people may notice that from time to time. We may even notice in it each other. Hence it’s not only important to learn how to take criticism well but also to give constructive and destructive criticism.

Last words

In conclusion, to know how to handle unreasonable and difficult people is to master the art of communication. As you utilize these skills, you may experience less grief, greater confidence, better relationships and higher communication prowess.

Sources and citations