How to deal with criticism in 8 steps

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We care so much about people’s judgments or evaluations about our personality and profession that we allow simple feedback to influence our mood. Criticism is an everyday experience, and it can be either constructive or negative. However, most people use the word ‘criticism’ only referring to negative feedbacks; this is the first reason why the judgment of others can quickly turn your mood from excited to frustrated.

Every critic’s judgment is based on specific standards; some could be personal to them while others are general. Therefore, to handle your critics in the best possible ways, you have to study their criticism. In this article, we highlight eight steps to deal with criticism regardless of its perspective. But first, let’s highlight some common reasons for criticism, and show you how to distinguish between constructive and negative criticism.

Deal with criticism

Common reasons for criticism

1. Love and care

Some critics are of pure intention; that’s why they take time to analyze issues concerning you and leave constructive feedback. These are the sort of people to keep around yourself if you want personal and professional growth.

2. Power, jealousy, or hate

These are the naysayers; they offer negative criticism to satisfy personal desires. Some people criticize others for self-aggrandizing or to keep an infinite power trip. Some critics are just nitpicking for no specific reason and offer negative criticism base on their emotions.

Three ways to distinguish between constructive and negative criticism

1. Criticism should be specific

Constructive criticism should highlight specific points that need improvements and provide the necessary guidance. On the other hand, negative criticism may not highlight a particular matter, mostly when influenced by jealousy or insecurity. It also doesn’t provide ways for possible improvements or any form of guidance.

2. It aligns with the topic

Constructive criticism doesn’t deviate from the topic; critics provide their views in alignment with the discussion. However, hostile critics deviate from the main point, they may attack the person rather than the topic, or they begin to make unnecessary comparisons.

3. Compassion

Constructive criticism comes from the standpoint of care and respect for the recipient. Unlike negative criticism, it is meant to facilitate the recipient’s improvement, to make them feel bad about themselves.

Eight steps to deal with criticism

Now that you can identify the type of criticism, here are ten things to do to handle your critics in the best possible way.

1. Pay attention for your critic’s intention

Instead of getting all defensive at the slight possibility of a negative comment, try to approach the situation open-mindedly to understand the critic’s standpoint. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and considering that could help you defuse the person’s intention. Your critic may be right in some cases, and you don’t want to make a fuss over every feedback that may sound like an attack, because sometimes they aren’t.  

2. Decide if the feedback is constructive or negative

Consider if the feedback is coming from a caring standpoint, concerning areas that need improvement, or specifies ways to get better. Also, take note if the comment contains or is followed by belittling language, or with the intent to self-aggrandizing.

Lastly, check out how frequent your critic leaves feedback, and what type of feedback was given in all stances. If they continuously follow you and always make comments that aren’t constructive, label that critic as unfavorable, and vis-à-vis.

3. Tell critics how you’d prefer your criticism

Although how you deal with criticism should differ depending on its intent, it is crucial to take of critics that want the best for you. If the objection is to your favor, it should be a dialogue.

However, you should let your critics know if you prefer a different style of communication. If they make a change to match your specification, it means they are on your side. On the other hand, if they push back, you could say they just wanted to be judgmental.

4. Appreciate critics who offer constructive criticism

As much as it hurts to hear your flaws coming from others, those who genuinely provide you with helpful feedback wants you to grow. Thanking them would do you a lot of good, as it helps to encourage them to follow up with your progress, give more helpful feedback, and be your ally for as long as possible.

5. Avoid giving a negative response to negative criticism

When you give a reciprocal response to negative criticism, it could only make issues worse, and you may regret giving in to emotions and saying something to hurt your critic intentionally. However, this doesn’t imply that you have to buy their bullshit, that could leave a dent on your esteem or reputation.

Furthermore, there are calm ways to handle the issue; one of the most effective ways is to put their viewpoint under scrutiny. Any inadequate criticism would fail clarification is demanded, which puts the “joke” on the critic is unable to provide clarity. Learn to put your emotions aside to handle negative critics effectively.

6. Do away with toxic critics

Sadly, some people derive pleasure from tearing others down, making others feel bad, so they feel good about themselves. If you notice a habitual pattern of negative criticism from the same persons, you may want to limit your encounter with them or cut them off completely.

Getting your guard up against such persons is crucial for creating a reputation and staying flexible with criticism. Having toxic ones around could make you all defensive and unable to identify and be grateful to constructive criticism.

7. Make use of constructive criticism

When you are given genuine feedback to improve, you want to make judicious use of such information. Not only does it make you better, but it also gives your critics fewer things to criticize you for. Keeping records of constructive criticism is like creating a guide or manual for self-improvement, and you stand to lose nothing by applying criticism to aid improvement.

8. Pre-inform critics to criticize you

Letting people know you are open to receive and deal with criticism majorly could help silence some ill-meaning critics who wouldn’t want to go through scrutiny. It also allows you to set your expectations so you don’t receive then unexpectedly and jump into conclusion without taking it to heart. Lastly, it also let well-wishers know that you are open to their opinions.

Conclusion on how to deal with criticism

Getting caught up in either constructive or negative criticism isn’t good for growth; this is why open-mindedness is critical when you deal with criticism. Like any skill, it would take time and practice to master, putting emotions aside to tackle critics successfully.

Lastly, there’s always something to learn from a critics’ viewpoint; it is essential to put every opinion under scrutiny to understand the message and make use of the information thoroughly.  Everyone has to deal with criticism at some point, so be ready to handle it when it comes.

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