Simple ways to deal with negative criticism
We want others to point out our mistakes to us and show us how to be better while still respecting us. Now, that’s where the problem lies. Not everyone knows how best to criticize others. This is why knowing ways to deal with negative criticism could benefit you in your personal life or career.
What is negative criticism?
Negative criticism is a type of criticism that can make a person (the criticized) get angry and defensive.
Sometimes, the intention of the critic (the person who is criticizing) might be good, but poor communication of that intention might come off as negative criticism. No one likes to hear that they aren’t good enough for (or at) something, even though we all realize that we aren’t perfect. I know, that sounds confusing, but that’s how we are all wired.
Yes, we want to improve, and we want to be told how to. We also want to be told where we are making a mistake so that we can deal with it and effect the necessary changes. However, we do not want to be looked down on when addressing our mistakes. We don’t want to feel disrespected. And we certainly do not want to be addressed rudely.
2 Types of criticisms you should be aware of
You see, there are two types of criticism. There’s constructive (positive criticism) and destructive (negative) criticism.
- Constructive criticism is a helpful way of giving feedback to a person that provides valuable suggestion and actionable steps to improve on something.
- Destructive criticism, on the other hand, undermines or belittles a person’s creation. Sometimes, it can go as far as harming a person’s reputation or self-esteem. Destructive criticism feels like it’s a direct attack on your personality.
While we may not be able to determine which approach people should use when criticizing us; whether positive or negative criticism, responding to it correctly is our responsibility.
Below are 3 simple ways to deal with negative criticism whether at your workplace, home, or elsewhere:
1. Do not respond immediately
Most times, our first instinct to negative criticism is to respond immediately. The problem with that is that we might end up saying things that we don’t mean because we are angry. Anger clouds our judgement and when that happens, we end up making bad decisions, most of the time.
So, to respond to negative criticism, take a step back and relax. Be calm and don’t respond immediately. You’re not trying to make the situation worse by doing something that might hurt either party at the end of the day. Give yourself some time to think and put your thoughts together calmly before responding.
For instance, it could be an email from your boss, colleague, a client or customer, etc. Responding immediately can get you into more trouble. So, again, do not respond to critics immediately.
Remember what we mentioned earlier? Some times, people’s criticism may sound negative or destructive because of their poor communication skill. They may not have bad intentions. Some other times, a person might criticize you calmly but with the intentions of harming you. It’s left for you to figure out what people’s intentions are. This is another reason why you shouldn’t be quick to respond to critics.
2. Keep an open mind
Again, we are not always right. Sometimes, we make mistakes. So, when a person criticizes you, take time to figure out what they are trying to say to you. Find out what their intentions are. It’ll help you handle the situation properly. You could be wrong, you know.
For instance, if you reacted immediately only to discover later on that the criticism wasn’t a direct attack on your personality, you’d have robbed yourself of the opportunity to grow.
Sometimes, it’d help to ignore the tone of the person criticizing and focus on what’s being said. is there something to be learnt or their words aimed at destroying you? You can only find out what type of criticism it is when you keep an open mind. Don’t rush to defend yourself or hurt them back with your words. You just might find their words helpful at the end of the day.
3. Move on quietly
Finally, after you’ve taken time to distinguish or find out what type of criticism it is, the next step is to take action. If it is constructive criticism, take steps to get better. If, on the other hand, it is negative criticism, just move on quietly.
The truth is that negative criticism never warrants a response. It ends up being nothing but a waste of time. I’m pretty sure you can spend that time doing some other important stuff. So, don’t sweat it, my friend.