Author: Elly Prior | First published: 23-09-2010 | Modified: 24-10-2017
If you're struggling to deal with criticism, I'm so glad you've landed here. I'm hoping to show you how you can deal with criticism more effectively. We're going to look at fair and unfair criticism and how best to deal with it regardless of the way it is delivered.
Criticism and rejection - though part of life - can often be upsetting and may even leave a lasting bitter taste. You can end up feeling miserable, angry, hurt and so on. You might be 'miffed' or 'crushed' - and you may want to 'hit back'... but trust me when I say that just isn't going to sort it.
Endless rumination (negative thinking) won't help either. Instead it'll just undermine your self-esteem and waste your precious energy.
Criticism can be a form of bullying on the one hand, and on the other hand - if it's delivered by someone who genuinely has your best interests at heart - it can be a gift. This is particularly so if that person has expertise in the appropriate field.
I really hope I can help you learn how to deal with criticism of you, your behaviour or your work - major or minor, at home or in the work place.
In case this page isn't quite what you're looking for, you may also want to visit other related pages, such as How to Deal With Rejection.
You will miss the point if you immediately react defensively. Instead, try not to...
... automatically take it personally
... react aggressively to it
... immediately try and prove the other person wrong
... concentrate on finding fault in the other person
The more emotional we are, the more limited our thinking becomes, and the more questionable our reactions are.
If you're learning a new skill and you're being given some feedback you don't like, the first step is to accept that you cannot learn anything new without making mistakes.
Your brain has to develop new neural pathways for the messages about that particular skill or action to flow through. Compare it with trying to find your way around a new town - you take wrong turnings until you become familiar with the place. Then suddenly you barely notice how you get from A to B because your actions have become automatic.
So, how do you take criticism?
Well... if you allow yourself to get upset by being steered or guided through feedback, your emotions will get in the way of your learning.
If you're upset and/or angry after having received a dressing down, my best advice is to distract and calm yourself for a while (20 min minimum if possible).
Try, if at all possible, to spend a little time engaging in a favourite activity, hobby or interest. You could go for a walk/run/cycle ride, talk to a friend, listen to calming music - or whatever feels right for you. Do anything you need to in order to calm yourself right down. Only then consider all your options for dealing with the criticism.
Even when you ask for feedback, are prepared for trouble and expect to be able to handle it - you may still be surprised by your own immediate reaction. So, when you're dealing with criticism (fair or unfair) here are some ideas on what to do next:
Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots."
Frank A. Clark
Questionable criticism can feel even harsher. Here are some tips to handle it.
Even constructive criticism can feel really uncomfortable. However, gentle feedback - which includes drawing out all of your strengths - allows you to learn something about yourself.
You can discuss it all with a professional, licensed therapist. It's now very easy to set up an online session, regardless of the device you're using. For further information see my page on mental health counselling.
Whatever the reason was for you having to deal with criticism, just remember that there's so much more to you than whatever it was that got criticised.
In addition, if any of these happen to apply to you:
Whether or not you're involved in the performing arts, music, sport, fashion, TV or you're a minor or a major celebrity - there is much more to you than any of these aspects.
Do remember to remind yourself of at least three things you've achieved today (NOT connected with any of the above) and three things you like about yourself, before you go to sleep.
If you've felt let down in any relationship, however old you were and for whatever reason, your self-esteem might be in your boots. I recommend Build Your Self-Esteem - via my page Self-Hypnosis FAQ - an effective and safe hypnosis download.
If you're more sensitive to the opinions of others than you would like, I really suggest you get the Care Less What Others Think download.
None of the following points are offered as excuses, but they may explain and help put things in context when you've been unfairly criticised.
Is your critic...
Remember though, that your learning may not just be about knowledge and skills - it can also be about 'people', 'life' and mostly - yourself.
Are you in a relationship with someone who is generally abusive? If so, your biggest learning will come when you recognise and change old patterns of behaviour in yourself.
Are you beating yourself up? Are you constantly critical of yourself? Is there a critic sitting on your shoulder forever undermining you? Are you always giving yourself a hard time? Do you tell yourself that...
... you look ridiculous
... you're no good
... you're showing yourself up
... you'll never 'make it'
... your work is rubbish?
... you're a failure
... you're unlovable
Constant self-criticism makes it harder for you to deal appropriately with criticism from others.
In a sense, you're bullying yourself. It's very unlikely that you'd say the things you're telling yourself to your best friend. Yet you're happy to undermine yourself? Now is the time to change that!
It's inevitable that we'll all face both constructive and destructive criticism during our lives. But don't worry - you can learn to cope with both.
Here are 6 steps to help you on your way...
(Oh, and I do know they're easier said than done, but I would love you to dig deep and start somewhere.)
Having considered everything and decided the criticism was fair - try to take it on the chin. As a workplace counsellor I often help people deal with their feelings after negative feedback - even if it was fair. I remind them that "today's drama is tomorrow's bin liner".
Dealing with criticism can offer an opportunity to learn. If at all possible, accept the feedback as a gift. It'll motivate you to do better, change your ways, adjust your communication - or whatever it is that you need to do.
Ultimately it will make you stronger.
Thank your critic for the honest feedback. Ask him or her for any advice - if appropriate - and ask for an opportunity to have another conversation some time in the future. This will let you discuss what you've done to deal with the criticism and to show the progress you've made.
You may also want to have a look at my page How to Apologise... just in case.
If you're dealing with criticism and you've had to put up with judging, put downs, attacks, trivialising, blaming, sarcasm and sneering - it's time to consider your options.
Unrelenting criticism and name calling is emotional abuse and bullying. It's about power and control and it's totally unacceptable. No one deserves such an 'onslaught'.
If you're stuck in that kind of a relationship, whether at home or at work, then please do seek help. It's fair enough to have to deal with being criticised at times, but there's a huge difference between someone who's critical on occasions and someone who's a bully.
When your self-esteem is in your boots, you may need a friend to help you see where the boundaries of what is 'acceptable' lie.
Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.
You may just need to accept that you're going to be criticised - regardless of what you do. You really can't please everyone - particularly not if you...
... manage a team
... are a entrepreneur
... own your own company
... are a politician
... or just are successful in whatever you do.
There will be people who will be critical of you. There will also be people for whom you are never going to get it right, whatever you do. There will also be people for whom nobody is going to ever get it right.
In fact, whatever your position - you're going to be criticised for sure. But you can bolster yourself - you have control over you. (Mind you, it's worth remembering that you don't have control over anyone else - whether or not you're dealing with criticism.)
Criticised too often? Can't change the situation? One way you can learn how to handle your critic is by boosting your self-esteem and doing some assertiveness training. Then, when you're next criticised you'll be able to deal with your critic calmly and confidently.
I've teamed up with a super company - I know their work and trust their business ethics: HypnosisDownloads.
The right self-hypnosis download is just about the most cost effective tool I know for helping anyone to improve how they feel about and deal with life.
I really hope this article is of help to you. :-)
I frequently update my articles based on feedback, therefore I really value your vote. If you think I've missed something, please do let me know in the comment section below.
Thank you so much in anticipation. :-)
How to Deal with Depression
How to Build Your Self-Esteem
How to Communicate Effectively
Cutting the Arguments
How to Get over Someone
Problem Solving Strategies
How to End a Relationship
Signs and Symptoms of a Burn-out
Image courtesy of: Daniel Kulinski