No one enjoys receiving criticism, no matter how valid or constructive it may be. You may have heard the phrase “take criticism seriously, not personally” before; while this is certainly far easier said than done, it really is the key to dealing with criticism in a healthy way.
Feedback – for the most part – is designed to help you, not hurt you. Here’s how to make criticism easier to swallow.
Ignore your first instinct
While it’s perfectly normal to feel hurt or defensive when you receive feedback that is less than complimentary, it isn’t the most helpful response. Instead of giving way to your initial emotions, take the time to pause, reflect, and compose yourself.
If the person giving you feedback wants to know how you feel about it, don’t be afraid to ask for some time to go away and think about it before you respond.
Sift the good from the bad
You don’t have to agree with all of the criticism you receive, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it altogether. Next time you are given feedback, decide what parts of it you think are wrong and what parts are right. It’s okay to want to vent about the parts you think are wrong, but don’t let that cloud your judgment about the parts that are really worth taking on board and remembering for the future.
Not everyone who gives you criticism is going to package it in an appealing way, and you might have to sift through a lot of dirt to find a few nuggets of wisdom.
Remember: constructive criticism isn’t personal, so it can be easier to accept if you treat it as if it isn’t being aimed at you. Imagine what advice you would give to a friend receiving the feedback. Would you tell them to ignore the criticism, or help them find ways to improve in the future? Using this technique can help you detach yourself from your emotions, and take a more objective approach to criticism.
Obstacles are opportunities
Even the world’s greatest experts, in every field, have areas where they can improve. Constructive criticism can help you identify those areas. So next time you’re given feedback, ask yourself: what can I learn from this? How can I use this to be even better? Don’t be afraid to follow up with questions so that you can get a clearer idea of what you should be working towards.
It always helps to know what your weak spots are (even if it isn’t fun having someone else point them out to you). Knowing this should be the fuel that drives you forward, not back.
Know your worth
While some of us may react defensively or dismissively to criticism, others are in danger of taking it too seriously. If you’re the type of person who beats themselves up over even the slightest negative comment, try to remember that criticism isn’t a reflection of who you are as a person.
Practise some sort of self-care that will remind you of your true value; text your best friend or have a cup of tea with your mum. This will put you in a healthier frame of mind to deal with any criticism you’ve received, and in a better mental position to take the feedback on board.