no denying it: criticism can (and often does)
hurt. But no matter what you do in life, you expose
yourself to the possibility of being judged
unfavorably. Even if you try to remain in the
background, avoiding all confrontation, you still must make
decisions--minor ones, maybe, like where you eat and what
you wear. And, rest assured, not everyone will agree
with your choices.
since you are going to receive criticism no matter what,
let's take a closer look at how you can best handle (and
even benefit from) it!
next time you are criticized, consider the following points:
Criticism is often nothing more than a reflection of
Again, regardless of what you do, somebody won't like
it. For instance, to get feedback from the audience at
my seminars, I often hand out speaker evaluations.
Without fail, two or three people will say that they wish
there had been more time for audience participation during
my presentation; at the very same program, two or three
others will say that they wish there had been less time
spent on group involvement. Accept that people have
diverse backgrounds, preferences, and interests. You
won't please everyone, so don't even try.
Don't take it personally.
Sure, this is easier said than done. However, the
critic generally isn't trying to prove that you have no
value as a person. Rather, they're revealing
their dislike of your idea or your performance. Let
them have their opinions. In the end, you decide
whether or not to let another person's remarks bother you.
Strive to learn from their words.
Find some truth in their statements--even if only a
shred. Usually, there is some accuracy in critical
comments. The critic may not be tactful, and the remarks may
be greatly exaggerated, but there is often helpful
information which you can glean. It's your job to seek
out this kernel of truth and benefit from it! For
example, let's say your spouse accuses you of
"never" being on time. While this statement
is not entirely accurate, you should still consider in what
ways, if any, you might improve your punctuality.
Don't critique the critic.
It's an equally bad idea to adopt a "consider the
source" attitude. Even if someone is generally
untrustworthy or, for whatever reason, you don't get along
with him or her, it doesn't mean that their comments will
always be completely without merit.
Don't be defensive.
Resist the temptation to argue with the critic. While
it's only natural to try to prove that you are
"right" and that the other person is
"wrong," this generally gets you nowhere.
(Of course, there will be some instances where it's
important to establish that you won't tolerate abusive
remarks and that you deserve to be treated with
respect. Use your best judgment.)
Accept that many people focus only on negatives.
The critic rarely gives a full, accurate assessment.
He or she tends to report only the negatives, even if there
are plenty of positives to mention as well. Recognize
that some people simply think it's unnecessary to tell you
what you've done right. Instead, they focus
only on "helping" you--which, to them, means
Realize that vicious, harsh comments come from people who
are unhappy with themselves.
Here again, there might be a shred of truth or something you
can learn from the criticism. But I've found that
mean, angry, insulting remarks spring from unhappy, insecure
people. They have to vent their anger and frustration
on someone and you've been chosen as today's target!
Don't let these people bring you down. NOTE: If
you repeatedly receive harsh words from others, it's
not a coincidence. You are attracting criticism based
on your beliefs and your level of self-esteem. Take
responsibility and look inward at what you can change to
achieve more harmonious relationships with those around you.
not everyone will like you, your goals, or your
actions. But don't let the fear of criticism stop you
from doing what you want. Accept criticism as a part
of life, and learn from it where possible. And, most
importantly, stay true to your own values and
convictions. If others don't approve, so what?
* * * * *
Jeff Keller is the
President of Attitude is Everything, Inc. For more than 20 years,
Jeff has delivered presentations on attitude and motivation to
businesses, groups and trade associations throughout the United States and abroad. Jeff is also the
author of the highly acclaimed book, Attitude is Everything. For
more information, go to attitudeiseverything.com.