How do you deal with criticism? I think the first reaction for most of us is to defend ourselves, or worse yet to lash back.
And yet, while criticism can be taken as hurtful and demoralizing, it can also be viewed in a positive way: it is honesty, and it can spur us to do better. It’s an opportunity to improve.
Stop Your First Reaction
If your first reaction is to lash back at the person giving the criticism, or to become defensive, take a minute before reacting at all. Take a deep breath, and give it a little thought.
Turn a Negative Into a Positive
Sure, it may be rude and mean, but in most criticism, you can find a nugget of gold: honest feedback and a suggestion for improvement. Sometimes it’s just someone having a bad day, but many times there’s at least a grain of truth in the criticism. See it as an opportunity to improve – and without that constant improvement, we are just sitting still. Improvement is a good thing.
Thank the Critic
Even if someone is harsh and rude, thank them. They might have been having a bad day, or maybe they’re just a negative person in general. But even so, your attitude of gratitude will probably catch them off-guard. And even if the critic doesn’t take your “thank you” in a good way, it’s still good to do – for yourself. It’s a way of reminding yourself that the criticism was a good thing for you, a way of keeping yourself humble.
Learn from the Criticism
After seeing criticism in a positive light, and thanking the critic, don’t just move on and go back to business as usual. Actually try to improve.
Be the Better Person
Too many times we take criticism as a personal attack, as an insult to who we are. But it’s not. Well, perhaps sometimes it is, but we don’t have to take it that way. Take it as a criticism of your actions, not your person. If you do that, you can detach yourself from the criticism emotionally and see what should be done. If you can rise above the petty insults and attacks, and respond in a calm and positive manner to the meat of the criticism, you will be the better person.
How do you stay above the attacks and be the better person? By removing yourself from the criticism, and looking only at the actions criticized. By seeing the positive in the criticism, and trying to improve. By thanking the critic. And by responding with a positive attitude.