The funny thing about criticism is that although it stings, it is actually an essential part of cultivation. You need to learn to accept criticism and turn it into something constructive. If you're not good at taking criticism, you might want to work on that skill of yours. This will not only help you better interact with other people, but it will also allow you to improve and feel better when problems arise.
Part 1 of 3: Dealing with Your Feelings
Step 1. Remain calm
A defensive reaction to criticism is natural, but if you allow yourself to get angry and show your emotions, it will not help the situation. Remember that we all make mistakes when we learn something new, so criticism is inevitable, and if you work with it constructively, you can learn something very valuable as a result. So try to stay calm, even if the person criticizing you seems agitated. You should not adopt his emotions, as this may make you seem unable to accept criticism, and this will prevent you from learning something from it.
- Breathe deeply. When you are being criticized, focus on your breathing to help you calm down. Count to five (silently) as you inhale, then hold your breath for five counts, and then exhale slowly.
- Try to smile. Even a small smile will help you feel better, and it will also make the person who criticizes you relax a little.
Step 2. Give yourself time to cool down
Before responding or even thinking about the criticism you've received, give yourself time to cool off. Do what you like for about 20 minutes. You can, for example, listen to your favorite music, read a book, or go for a walk. Allowing yourself time to cool off after receiving harsh criticism will help you deal with it in a constructive way, rather than just reacting based on your emotional response.
Step 3. Separate criticism from the rest of your personality
When taking criticism in a healthy way, you definitely need to put everything on separate shelves. Try not to think of criticism as a personal insult or to relate it to your other actions. Accept it as it is, and don't add anything to it or make assumptions about your other aspects based on what has been said.
For example, if someone criticizes your painting, this does not mean that you are a bad artist. In this particular painting, you may have a few flaws that no one will like, but you can still be a great artist
Step 4. Think about the motivation for criticism
Sometimes criticism is not expressed in order to help, but in order to offend. Before you decide what to do with the criticism you receive, think a little about it. Ask yourself a few questions and try to understand why the criticism was made.
- The comments were about what you can control? If not, why do you think they were made?
- Does the person who criticizes you really matter? Why yes or why no?
- Are you competitors with this person? If so, can criticism be a reflection of this?
- Do you seem to be bullied? If so, have you asked for help with this problem? (If you feel like you're just being bullied at school or work, talk to someone who can help, such as a teacher or HR representative.)
Step 5. Talk to someone about what happened
Whether the criticism was based on your performance or it was just an offensive statement, it is necessary to discuss what happened and how it made you feel. Wait until you can walk away from the person and find someone you can trust. Tell the last person about what happened and how it made you feel. Discussing criticism with a trusted friend or family member can also help you better understand the criticism and its reasons.
Step 6. Refocus your attention
Once you have taken steps to calm down and understand the criticism, you will need to refocus on your positive aspects. If you focus too much on what you need to improve, you may feel overwhelmed and helpless. Instead, try to list as many of your strengths as possible in order to start rebuilding your self-esteem.
For example, you might include items such as “cook well,” “funny,” or “avid reader,” on your list. List as many things as you can and re-read your strengths to remind yourself of what you do well
Part 2 of 3: How to respond to criticism
Step 1. Listen to criticism
When someone criticizes you, be sure to listen carefully and show that you are listening. Maintain eye contact and nod your head from time to time to show that you are listening. This can be difficult, but it's in your best interest. If you don't listen, you may not react in the right way, which can lead to an even greater flurry of criticism.
Even if the advice or criticism is bad, it is still important to listen to the person. If he sent out a written comment, you can “listen” at your own pace
Step 2. Reframe what your critic has just said
After the person has finished speaking, it might be helpful to rephrase their criticism in response so that both of you understand what is needed. In other words, you need to exclude the possibility of repeated criticism due to misunderstandings. You don't have to repeat what the critic has just said word for word, just summarize what the critic said.
- For example, imagine that you have just been criticized because you have incorrectly filed some documents, and this has led to some problems for your employees. You can paraphrase this criticism something like this: “From what you just said, I realized that I need to be more careful when I file documents so that my colleagues can do their job effectively. Right?".
- If you do not understand the criticism, ask the person to clarify or repeat what was not clear to you. Say something like, “I want to make sure I get it right so I can fix the problem. Can you please explain in a different way what you mean?”.
Step 3. Answer when you are ready
Some types of criticism may be too harsh or difficult to respond immediately. If possible, wait until you have calmed down, collected, and thought about criticism for a while before responding. Sometimes you need to respond to criticism right away, but it would be better if you had some time backlash. Taking time to come up with a more mature answer will lead to a better outcome.
Say something like, “Thank you for your feedback. Let me take another look at the papers and I'll tell you what I can do. May I send you a message tomorrow morning for your advice on changes?”
Step 4. Apologize for your mistakes, if necessary
If the criticism arose because you made a mistake or offended someone, then you need to immediately apologize for what happened. An apology is different from dealing with criticism, so don't feel like an apology obliges you to change or accept all the criticism you receive.
In most cases, all you need to say right away is something like, “I'm sorry. I didn't want this to happen. I will look at this case and try to figure out how to make sure it never happens again.”
Step 5. Admit where the person is right
When you are ready to verbally respond to the criticism, start by acknowledging where the criticism was correct. When he hears this, he will understand that you really thought well over his words.
- You can simply say, "You are right." And move on. You don't need to dive into the details of why your critic is right. Simply admitting that you agree with their point of view will make the person feel that their opinion has been heard.
- Of course, your critic may be completely wrong. In this case, it would be helpful to find that aspect of his statement that was correct (for example, “I didn't do it as well as I could”), or just thank him for the feedback and leave it all.
Step 6. Talk about how you plan to change
Tell the person how you plan to implement their advice or deal with the problem they criticized. This will reassure him that you are working on the problem. By accepting criticism in this way, fully acknowledging it and responding to it, you appear before another mature, adult. If you turn to problems and act to solve them, then people will be much more lenient towards you in the future.
You might say something like, "Next time, I will come to you before speaking with the client to make sure we agree on the response we will take."
Step 7. Ask for advice
If the person has not recommended the best way to solve the problem, ask them how they would have done it differently. However, if he has already given you some advice, you can still ask for more. Getting advice gives you an opportunity to learn and also makes the person giving you the advice feel good.
Stick to questions starting with “what” instead of “why”. Questions starting with “what” will lead to more helpful advice, while questions starting with “why” can only exacerbate the situation and put the critic on the defensive. For example, ask something like, "What do you think I should do differently next time?" Don't ask something like, "Why did you say that about me?"
Step 8. Communicate the need for patience
Ask the person to be patient if you cannot take immediate action for change. Changes, especially major ones, can take some time. Ask for patience - this will release some of the pressure from you and lead to a better understanding between you and the critic. When you communicate that you need time to work on improvements, it also tells the person that you plan to take their criticism seriously.
Part 3 of 3: How to Use Criticism to Improve Yourself
Step 1. Consider this as an opportunity
The healthiest way to deal with criticism is to view it as an opportunity to take a step back, evaluate your actions, and find ways to improve. Criticism is a good thing; it can lead you to the pinnacle of perfection. When you look at criticism from this perspective, it is easier for you to accept it. Not only will you be able to accept it, but you may even ask for it.
Even if the person was wrong in their criticism, it can still help you find areas for improvement. Perhaps the fact that someone thinks there is a problem with what you are doing will indicate to you that you need to work on something, even if that is not what that person was talking about
Step 2. Distinguish between useful and unhelpful advice
When dealing with criticism, it is important to understand what advice to listen to. In general, if a person is just complaining without offering ideas for change, then they should probably be ignored. Plus, you don't have to worry about criticizing what you can't change. Some people throw criticisms left and right just to feel better, and you need to be mindful of those situations. Don't react to criticism if it is useless. Confirming it and fighting it will only lend criticism to undeserved power.
- If the person hasn't given any good advice at all, then you should understand that this is not constructive feedback. For example, if someone says, “It was just awful, the colors don't match, and the presentation is completely messy,” ask them if they have any tips on how to improve it. If the person's words continue to be unpleasant and useless, ignore them and accept whatever they say in the future with a grain of salt.
- Good criticism is when negative is accompanied by positive, and a person gives some recommendations for improvement. For example: “I'm not happy with so much red, but I love the shade of blue on the mountains.” This statement is constructive, so it is worth listening to what the person is saying. Perhaps you will take this advice into account next time.
Step 3. Write down the main points and reflect on them
Think about the advice you've been given. Have you been told what you need to do to change? Think of several different approaches that will help you achieve the same effect. This will help you identify possible options so you can choose the one that works best for you. Also consider if there is anything else you can learn from the critic's words.
In fact, it would be very helpful to write down the advice word for word as soon as you receive it. This is so that your memory does not distort the words later and ultimately does not give away only what your offended feelings perceived
Step 4. Make a plan
Now that you’ve decided what advice will be important to you, you need to make a plan for how you will implement the desired changes in life. Having a plan, especially in writing, will make it easier to bring change into reality. It also makes you more likely to take action.
- What exactly do you need to do to make these changes happen? Write down these steps step by step so you can start working on them.
- Make sure your objectives are measurable and within your control. For example, if you are criticized for an essay you wrote for a lesson, a measurable goal within your control would be to “start writing the next essay as soon as it is asked” or “get preliminary teacher feedback before the date of the essay”. You should NOT set goals such as “write better” or “get the highest grade for your next essay,” because such goals are difficult to measure and control.
Step 5. Never give up on the path of improvement
Be persistent in trying to implement the advice given to you. Criticism can sometimes lead you to a direction completely different from your normal direction or from the one you think is correct. This means that for self-improvement you will need to work. Expect obstacles to changing your behavior.