Nobody likes being criticised but, unfortunately it is a fact of life. To be able to respond to criticism with nobility and detachment is an important life skill, which few people have. If we respond to criticism without careful consideration, it can easily lead to unnecessary suffering.
1. What Can I Learn from Criticism?
Most criticism is probably based, at least in part, on some truths. Criticism may appear negative. But, through criticism we have the opportunity to learn and improve from their suggestions. 2. Respond to the suggestions not the tone of the criticism. The problem is that people may make valuable critical suggestions. However, there tone and style of criticism means that we respond not to the suggestions but remember there confrontational manner. In this respect we need to separate the criticism from the style of criticism. Even if people speak in a tone of anger, we should try to detach their emotion from the useful suggestions which lie underneath.
3. Value criticism.
The problems is that quite often, we only value praise. When people speak kind words we feel happy. When people criticise we feel miserable. However, if we only received insincere praise and false flattery, how would we ever make progress? If we wish to improve and develop we should invite constructive criticism and appreciate their suggestions.
4. Don’t take it personally.
This is often the biggest problem which occurs with regard to criticism. If I criticise my Mother’s cooking, she feels personally offended. But, it is a mistake to identify ourselves with an apple pie. Somebody may find good reasons why our cooking is bad; but, this does not mean they are criticising ourselves. When people criticise us directly, we should feel they are not criticising our real self; but, just an unillumined aspect of ourselves. When we criticise others, we are perhaps criticising their pride or jealousy; but, the jealousy is a mere passing emotion, it is not the real person.
5. Ignore False Criticism.
Sometimes we are criticised with no justification. This is a painful experience. But, potentially we can deal with it more easily than criticism which is justified. One option is to remain aloof and ignore it completely. We should feel that false criticism is as insignificant as an ant trying to harm an elephant. If we remain silent and detached the criticism is given no energy. If we feel the necessity of fighting it – in a way, we give it more importance than it deserves. By remaining silent we maintain a dignity that others will come to respect.
6. Don’t Respond Immediately
It is best to wait a little before responding. If we respond with feelings of anger or injured pride we will soon regret it. If we wait patiently it can enable us to reflect in a calmer way.
Smiling, even a false smile, can helps us to relax more. It creates a more positive vibration and smoothes the situation. It will definitely help psychologically. Smiling will motivate the other person to moderate their approach.
How to Deal with Criticism Well: 25 Reasons to Embrace It “Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” ~Aristotle At the end of the day, when I feel completely exhausted, it often has nothing to do with all the things I’ve done. It’s not a consequence of juggling multiple responsibilities and projects. It’s not my body’s way of punishing me for becoming a late-life jogger after a period of laziness. It’s not even about getting too little sleep. When I’m exhausted, you can be sure I’ve bent over backward trying to win everyone’s approval. I’ve obsessed over what people think of me, I’ve assigned speculative and usually inaccurate meanings to feedback I’ve received, and I’ve lost myself in negative thoughts about criticism and its merit.
I work at minimizing this type of behavior—and I’ve had success for the most part—but admittedly, it’s not easy. I remember back in college, taking a summer acting class, when I actually made the people around me uncomfortable with my defensiveness. This one time, the teacher was giving me feedback after a scene in front of the whole class. She couldn’t get through a single sentence without me offering some type of argument. After a couple minutes of verbal sparring, one of my peers actually said, “Stop talking. You’re embarrassing yourself.” Looking back, I cut myself a little slack. You’re vulnerable in the spotlight and the student’s reaction was kind of harsh.
But I know I needed to hear it. Because I was desperately afraid of being judged, I took everything, from everyone, as condemnation. I realize criticism doesn’t always come gently from someone legitimately trying to help. A lot of the feedback we receive is unsolicited and doesn’t come from teachers—or maybe all of it does. We can’t control what other people will say to us, whether they’ll approve or form opinions and share them. But we can control how we internalize it, respond to it, and learn from it, and when we release it and move on. If you’ve been having a hard time dealing with criticism lately, it may help to remember the following:
The Benefits of Criticism
1. Looking for seeds of truth in criticism encourages humility. It’s not easy to take an honest look at yourself and your weaknesses, but you can only grow if you’re willing to try. 2. Learning from criticism allows you to improve. Almost every critique gives you a tool to more effectively create the tomorrow you visualize. 3. Criticism opens you up to new perspectives and ideas that you may not have considered. Whenever someone challenges you, they help expand your thinking. 4. Your critics give you an opportunity to practice active listening. This means you resist the urge to analyze in your head, planning your rebuttal, and simply consider what the other person is saying. 5. You have the chance to practice forgiveness when you come up against harsh critics. Most of us carry around stress and frustration that we unintentionally misdirect from time to time.
6. It’s helpful to learn how to sit with the discomfort of an initial emotional reaction instead of immediately acting or retaliating. All too often we want to do something with our feelings—generally not a great idea!
7. Criticism gives you the chance to foster problem solving skills, which isn’t always easy when you’re feeling sensitive, self-critical, or annoyed with your critic.
8. Receiving criticism that hits a sensitive spot helps you explore unresolved issues. Maybe you’re sensitive about your intelligence because you’re holding onto something someone said to you years ago, something you need to release.
9. Interpreting someone else’s feedback is an opportunity for rational thinking—sometimes, despite a negative tone, criticism is incredibly useful.
10. Criticism encourages you to question your instinctive associations and feelings; praise is good, criticism is bad. If we recondition ourselves to see things in less black and white terms, there’s no stop to how far we can go!
11. Criticism presents an opportunity to choose peace over conflict. When criticized. our instinct may be to fight, creating unnecessary drama. The people around us generally want to help us, not judge us. 12. Fielding criticism well helps you mitigate the need to be right. Nothing closes an open mind like ego—bad for your personal growth and damaging for relationships. 13. Your critics give you an opportunity to challenge any people-pleasing tendencies.Relationships based on a constant need for approval can be draining for everyone involved. It’s liberating to let people think whatever they want—they’re going to do it anyway.
14. Criticism gives you the chance to teach people how to treat you. If someone delivers it poorly, you can take this opportunity to tell them, “I think you make some valid points, but I would receive them better if you didn’t raise your voice.” 15. Certain pieces of criticism teach you not to sweat the small stuff. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter that your boyfriend thinks you load the dishwasher “wrong.”
16. The more time you spend dwelling about what someone said, the less time you have to do something with it. 17. If you improve how you operate after receiving criticism, this will save time and energy in the future. When you think about from that perspective—criticism as a time saver—it’s hard not to appreciate it! 18. Fostering the ability to let go of your feelings and thoughts about being critiqued can help you let go in other areas of your life. Letting go of worries, regrets, stresses, fears, and even positive feelings helps you root yourself in the present moment.
Mindfulness is always the most efficient use of time. 19. Criticism reinforces the power of personal space. Taking ten minutes to process your emotions, perhaps by writing in a journal, will ensure you respond well. And responding the well the first time prevents one critical comment from dominating your day. 20. In some cases, criticism teaches you how to interact with a person, if they’re negative or hostile, for example. Knowing this can save you a lot of time and stress in the future.
21. Learning to receive false criticism—feedback that has no constructive value—without losing your confidence is a must if you want to do big things in life. The more attention your work receives, the more criticism you’ll have to field. 22. When someone criticizes you, it shines a light on your own insecurities. If you secretly agree that you’re lazy, you should get to the root of that. Why do you believe that, and what can you do about it? 23. Learning to move forward after criticism, even if you don’t feel incredibly confident, ensures no isolated comment prevents you from seizing your dreams. Think of it as separating the wheat from the chaff; takes what’s useful, leave the rest, and keep going!
24. When someone else appraises your harshly, you have an opportunity to monitor your internal self-talk. Research indicates up to 80 percent of our thoughts are negative. Take this opportunity to monitor and change your thought processes so you don’t drain and sabotage yourself! 25. Receiving feedback well reminds you it’s okay to have flaws—imperfection is part of being human. If you can admit weakness and work on them without getting down on yourself, you’ll experience far more happiness, peace, enjoyment, and success. We are all perfectly imperfect, and other people may notice that from time to time. We may even notice in it each other. Somehow accepting that is a huge weight off my mind.
The psychology of criticism
In general, the psychology of criticism studies the cognitive and emotional effects of criticism, the behavioral characteristics of criticism, and its influence on how people are reacting.
Area of study
The psychology of criticism is primarily concerned with: the motivation, purpose or intent which people have for making criticisms – healthy or unhealthy. the meaning of criticism for the self, and for others – positive or negative. the effect which criticism has on other people – good or bad. how people respond to criticisms, or cope with them – negatively or positively. the quantity and quality of criticism required to achieve the desired effect or outcome. the form in which criticisms are delivered – effective or ineffective. how people learn to give and receive criticism successfully. the sublimation, repression or denial of criticism.
Parents, teachers, lawyers, managers and politicians are often concerned with these issues, because it can make a great deal of difference to how problems are tackled and resolved. The motivation as well as the effect of criticism may be rational, or it may be non-rational or arbitrary; it may be healthy or unhealthy. When psychologists study criticism as a type of human behavior, they do not usually study it “in general” – such a general study is often considered to be more a philosophicalconcern. Psychologists usually study it in specific contexts and situations. The reason is partly technical (it is difficult to construct and prove universal generalizations about criticism as a human behavior) and partly practical (it is more useful to understand particular behaviors which are of direct practical concern).
The most basic rule
The most basic “rule-of-thumb” of criticism which psychologists usually recommend is: “Respect the individual, focus the criticism on the behavior that needs changing – on what people actually do or actually say.”
The thought behind this basic norm for criticism is:
If individuals are attacked for their personal characteristics (for “being who they are”) it may be impossible for them to change, therefore making the criticism useless. If it is not actually clear what the person does, or what he is really saying, the criticism may miss the mark. By concentrating clearly and only on observation of what the individual as a matter of fact does or says, it is less likely, that the criticism will be misplaced, confused or misinterpreted; it is less likely, that the person being criticized is being misunderstood. It would be unfair and unjust, not to say irrelevant, to criticize people for something they have not actually done. It would be a false accusation. Inversely, if the individuals are respected with a bit of humor, and due credit is given to their positive intentions as human beings, it is vastly more likely that the criticism will be understood, and taken seriously.
And if the criticism is clearly directed only to “what people actually do” that is wrong, instead of “who they are”, it creates possibilities, options and choices for doing something different and better. They can’t change who they are, but they can change their actions. Because people’s sense of dignity is secure in this case, they are better able to respond to the criticism, and indeed do something about it. Of course, the critics may just want to provoke or vent a bit of hostility, but it might backfire, because the people criticized may make a nasty response. The nasty response may “prove” to the critics, that the criticism was justified, but the critics have brought this on themselves, they have produced their own nastiness.
It is easy to do, but may be difficult to live with. In the process, the whole point of the criticism may be lost – all that happens is, that there is a quarrel between people who just ve nt their hostility. This is very unlikely to produce any solution that all concerned can live with. The basic psychological rule of criticism assumes that people want to use criticism to achieve an improvement, usually “in good faith” (bona fide). It assumes the critic has a positive intention in making the criticism. The rule may not make much sense if there is an all-out war going on, where the opposition is just trying to destroy and discredit the target as much as possible, using almost any means they can find. Nevertheless, psychologists recommend to respond by attacking what the opponents actually do, not who they are. That way, the critic cannot be accused of unfair or prejudiced treatment of others.
The basic rule is not always easy to apply. It may be difficult to have respect for somebody who is the target of criticism, especially if there is a history of grievances. It may be that it seems as though people are being respected, but in reality (if you understand the full meaning) they are being disrespected. It might look formally like they are treated as equals, but in reality (informally speaking, practically and substantively) they are being denigrated. It may be difficult to consider the action which is being criticized, in its own right, separately from the person (“only you could do something awful like this to me”). Consequently, psychologists often recommend that before a criticism is being stated to a person, the critic should try to get into rapport with the person being criticized (“get in sync” with the other person, “on the same wavelength”). If that is not possible (because they are enemies), the best thing may be not to express the criticism at all, or get a mediator. It may take considerable strategy in order to find a way of making a criticism, so that it “really hits home”.
Rather than “shooting their mouth off”, it may be wise if people say nothing, until the right time and place arrives to make the criticism. One problem at the receiving end is that a criticism may be taken more seriously than it really merits, or that it is taken “too personally”, even though that was not the intention of the critic. Criticisms are often voiced without knowing exactly what the response will be. It may be that this problem cannot be entirely removed; the best one can do, is to judge, on the basis of experience, what would be the most likely effect of the criticism, and communicate the criticism as well as one can.
Another sort of problem is the limited attention span of individuals. To express a criticism may require detailed explanation or clarification; it presupposes that the knowledge exists to understand what it is about, and that people are willing to listen. That takes time, and the time may not be available, or people are reluctant to take the time. This can get in the way of the mutual respect required. It may be possible to overcome this problem only by formulating the criticism as briefly as possible, and communicate it in a form which takes the least time to understand it. Failing that, people must “make time” to discuss the criticism. It can take considerable effort to create the situation in which the criticism will be “heard”.
Exception to the rule
The exception to the basic psychological rule consists of cases where, it is argued, the individuals and their behaviors cannot be distinguished. This would be the case, for example, if the criticism itself consisted of “being there” (intruding, trespassing, causing property damage), or “not being there” (non-response). In some cases people deliberately seek “loopholes” in the ordinary rules and channels for criticism, in order to make a criticism which, although strictly not illegal, may have a malicious intention, or offends the target of the criticism. That can cause the ordinary consideration which people have for others to be abandoned. What is legitimate and illegitimate criticism is not always easy to establish, and there may be “grey areas” in the law. It is rarely possible to make rules for every detail of what people may or may not do. The law itself can also be contested with criticism, if it is perceived as unfair. Nevertheless the courts usually draw the line somewhere.
Learning to criticize
The ability to criticize is something which rarely occurs naturally; it must be learnt. Good critics exhibit several kinds of qualities: Insight: critics should clearly understand why they are criticizing. Attitude: critics should be emotionally confident and morally comfortable, both about making a criticism, and about dealing with the response to criticism. Inquiry: critics should be willing to question authority, popular opinion, and assumptions. Knowledge: critics should research the subject of their criticism to maintain the factual integrity of their criticism. Skills: critics should choose and apply the correct kind of criticism to an issue, so that the criticism will be balanced, complete and persuasive.
Critics require adequate skills in reasoning, research, and communication. Integrity: critics should remain consistent and honest before, during, and after a criticism is expressed. These qualities are learned through practical experience in which people have a dialogue or debate and give each other feedback. Often, teachers can design assignments specifically to stimulate students to acquire these qualities. But the facility for critical thought usually requires some personal initiative. There are plenty of “lazy critics”, but one must work hard to be a good critic. The lazy critic is soon forgotten, but a good critic is remembered for years.
With criticism it is always important to keep things in proportion, neither overdoing things, nor being too timid. People can be too critical, but they can also be insufficiently critical. It is important to strike a good balance: to be neither excessively critical nor completely uncritical. People who are too critical and focus only on the downside or limitation of things run into the problem that others perceive them as being “too negative”, and lacking a “constructive attitude”. If there is too much criticism, it gets in the way of getting anything done – people are just “anti”, but “it does not lead anywhere”. People who are uncritical, however, are often regarded as naive and superficial (“suckers”); they lack discernment, they are prone to being deceived and tricked, because they readily believe all kinds of things, which they should not accept just like that, for their own good.
If they thought more critically, they would not give in so easily to what others say or do. The idea here is that “one should not be so open-minded that one’s brains fall out.” An important reason why balanced criticism is desirable is, that if things get totally out of proportion, the critics or their targets can lose their balance themselves. Criticism can wreak havoc, and therefore people have to know how to handle it from both ends. If the criticism is balanced, it is more likely to be successful.
Effect on others
When psychologists analyze the effect of criticism on others, they are concerned with how people respond to criticism (cognitively and emotionally), and how criticism influences the recipient’s behavior.
Positive and negative effects
When people criticize, it can have a fruitful, enriching and constructive effect on the recipient, because new ideas and viewpoints may be generated in trying to solve a problem. People can also be hurt by criticisms, when they experience the criticism as a personal attack. Psychologists concerned with human communication, such as therapists, therefore often recommend that people should choose the right words to express their criticism. The same criticism can be raised in different ways, some more successful than others.
If people formulate their criticism in the right way, it is more likely that other people will accept it. If the criticism is badly expressed, people might reject it, not because it is wrong in itself, but because they do not like being talked to in that way. Even if the content of a criticism is quite valid, the form in which it is expressed may be so counter-productive, that the criticism is not accepted. The content may be something that people can work out on their own, but the form concerns the social relationship between people.
Main article: Feedback § Social_sciences
The term “feedback” is often used instead of criticism, because “feedback” may sound more neutral, while criticism may seem to be about “finding fault”. A more polite language may be used when there are issues of authority and obedience (“who has to follow whom”), as well as the need for cooperative teamwork to get a job done (“constructive collegial attitude”). The question is often “who controls the feedback”, “who is allowed to criticize”, “who owns the problem” and “who is to do something about the problem”. It may be that managers educate employees to employ a more positive and professional language, in order to get them to see things in a way that is more productive for the enterprise.