How to properly respond to criticism

People react to criticism in different ways. Someone learns from her and treats her calmly. But for some, it is a problem that causes anger, excuses, self-doubt and a fall in self-esteem. How to prevent this problem? How to respond to criticism? How to make criticism benefit us, not bitterness and suffering?

Rule 1 – Calm down and watch

Do not give in to the very first reaction your mind and emotions give rise to. Yes, criticism can be unpleasant, and I know it. Sometimes, having heard such criticism, we feel that our works did not receive an adequate assessment, that our personal qualities were questioned. Differences between one’s own expectations and the opinions of other people give rise to unpleasant dissonance: resentment, irritation, bitterness and anger provoke a reaction of desperate defense or aggressive attack on a criticizing person. There is nothing strange and surprising in this, because we are forced to act by the protective psychological mechanisms hidden in us by nature.

When we hear negative criticism, we unconsciously see a threat not only in relation to our social status, but we also feel a danger to the ideas about our “I” that have taken root in us. In general, we do not like it when people say that we are not used to thinking about ourselves.

Therefore, it happens that we passionately and violently react to criticism. It can be said an automatic psychic reaction. But where there is automatism, there is not always a place for common sense and understanding. Anger and resentment narrow the field of your perception , they rivet all your attention only on yourself: you think much more about how to protect yourself from criticism or how to find weak points in this criticism than about how much it can help you .

But if you calm down and relax, wait out the first stormy wave of emotions, then your perception will become free from stunning feelings, and you will see many more that you have not seen before. For example, the fact that in a critical assessment, albeit too subjective, there is a grain of truth. And if you take it into account, in the future it will help you to avoid many mistakes. Or, on the contrary, you will understand that the remark was completely unfair, and the person who expressed it was in a bad mood, which provoked him to a negative assessment of you and your work.

A calm mind can see much more and think much more constructively than a mind subject to strong emotions.

Therefore, before you go into the controversy or respond to an e-mail containing unpleasant information about your work, try to calm down. There are many different techniques that will help you quickly pull yourself together and restore spiritual balance:

  • Slowly count to ten
  • Take a few deep slow breaths
  • Write down all your thoughts and describe all your feelings on paper before answering. What do you feel? What do you think? Throw it out on paper, not on man.
These are good and effective techniques that will help you “wait out” the first reaction and relax.

But I like in this case (if time allows) just to watch your mind. See how he worries and rushes under the heat of the fire of my wounded self-importance. How he becomes biased, ceases to understand, and freezes in a militant stance in order to rush on the offender. As he showered me with a heap of flattery and self-justification, to make criticism less painful …

Instead of giving in to the first reaction, just calmly watch her. As soon as you notice that your mind has again come up with tricky ways to protect yourself from the attacks of criticism, turn your attention back to observation. So you will not only see how the violent reaction gradually weakens and fades away, you will also learn a lot about yourself, how your mind behaves, how your mind works. You will learn much more from passionless observation of yourself than from all psychology textbooks combined!

But do not somehow condemn this reaction of your mind. Remember, there is nothing bad in it, because it is natural. We are so arranged by nature that we can react to criticism in a similar way. Therefore, treat this reaction with love and understanding, but at the same time, try not to succumb to it, but remain a spectator who is not involved in the performance.

If you learn this, it will be much easier for you not to succumb to any emotions (anger, irritation), you can not react to them immediately, but use the time to come to the best solution to the problem you are faced with. This skill is very useful in life. It will help you avoid many quarrels, scandals and just difficult situations. You will see that the first reaction is the strongest in only a few seconds: it is worth holding this time, not giving in to the first wave, as it will be much easier for you to pull yourself together.

Rule 2 – Use criticism as an opportunity to become better

Criticism is not always a reason to drop your dignity or offend you. It can serve as a reliable assistant who will point you to your weaknesses or weaknesses of the project you are working on. It is not very right to stop your ears and resist when such an assistant talks to you. But this is exactly what people who violently react to criticism are doing.

If you listen to this helper, you will learn a lot about yourself and, possibly, become a better person! If criticism points you to your weaknesses, which you can improve, then this is not a reason to be upset! After all, you are most likely to say thanks to the person who will tell you in time that your car has faulty brakes. You will immediately take the car to the service and, possibly, save yourself health or life. Why is it so difficult for us to accept disapproving criticism about ourselves?

Take it with gratitude and apply for the benefit of yourself! And be sure, almost any personality traits can be developed . Therefore, do not take criticism as a verdict and reproach yourself!

But, what if criticism is aimed at those qualities that you cannot change? Moreover, there is no reason to worry about it! What is the sense of grieving about what you can not fix? Learn to accept the circumstances as they are.

Rule 3 – Ask for details

Sometimes it is necessary to clarify the criticism. First of all, thank the person for his critical comment. Then you should make sure that you understand him correctly: you can clarify some aspects of his remarks. For example: “what do you mean by the absence of references to sources”, “give an example, please!”

This will help not only to gain time, but also to clarify, detail the criticism and change your reaction to it. For example, at first it seemed to you that the quality of your work in general is being questioned, but after clarifying the critical comment, you were convinced that only a particular aspect of your work was said: “Well, I will give an example. In the section “software” you have no analysis of the sources on which you relied. In the section “technical solutions” I also did not see a detailed analysis. As for the remaining 12 sections, analysis is enough there. ”

You must agree that such criticism is much easier to accept than the general statement “in your work you do not refer to sources”. People tend to summarize, so ask them to clarify their comments and confirm with specific examples. The same applies to life situations, not just workers. Instead of arguing with your wife because she called you irresponsible, ask her in what situations you are irresponsible and how often such situations occur. Ask her for examples. It is always easier to agree with examples than with abstract accusations. You can not argue with the facts, they help to dot the i. Maybe you find out that you really do not show much responsibility regarding your life, and you need to change something. Or will you come to that that the facts of irresponsible behavior are exaggerated by your spouse, they are isolated. And in many situations you remain serious and decisive.

This tactic will help not only to clarify what the critic has in mind, but will also allow you to take time out in order not to succumb to the first reaction, which can be the most destructive when you do not have time and opportunity to relax and calm down.

Rule 4 – Listen to the criticism

When you listen to someone’s criticism, just try to listen to it! It should not immediately after the first words come up with what to answer and how to defend. So you can miss some important details in the words of the critic and look silly by answering him. And, of course, you should not interrupt the interlocutor, trying to give him your answer. Listen to him carefully to the end, it will help you better understand the words of another person, as well as collect your own thoughts to answer in the most appropriate way. Take a short pause to ponder his words. No one will wake you up for judging; on the contrary, you will show respect for someone else’s point of view. You took her time, thought it over, and not just said what the first thing came to mind.

And the more calmly and thoughtfully you answer, the less inadequate criticism you will hear in response, and it will be easier for you to accept criticism. Curb your ego, but also do not insult the ego of the one who criticizes you, treat criticism with respect. If two ego mates in a duel, then a catastrophe can not be avoided. Mutual respect, listening skills do not allow this collision to occur.

Rule 5 – Make sure the criticism fits its subject

Sometimes you should make sure that the one who criticizes you has understood the subject and purpose of your work well. For example, often on this site I get critical reviews about my articles. Many of them really help me write better. But others seem to be aimed not at my article, but at another, which I did not write. For example, a person may criticize what I did not indicate in the article. This may occur for various reasons. I could not very well explain my point of view. Or the reader did not understand it very well. Perhaps he was just too lazy to read the article to the end, but he had a desire to criticize it. I react to such criticism in different ways. Sometimes I try to figure out what caused it. Maybe I’ve really misunderstood something, and I should reformulate my thoughts. Sometimes I just pass by without answering

Therefore, before reacting to criticism, you should make sure that it is addressed specifically to your work, and not to the distorted image of this work in the head of the critic. You do not need to get involved in a dispute about work that you did not do and react to such criticism with insult. After all, it is not addressed to your work, but to some distorted representation of it in the head of the critic. And this image may have little to do with the actual subject: do not take it personally. A person could come up with something himself, and then criticize what he came up with, thinking that he condemns your work. Do not give in to this illusion.

Also, this criticism must take into account the objectives of this work. For example, it is not very smart to criticize a washing machine for not sending SMS from it.

Rule 6 – Get rid of the installation that you need to be perfect

Get rid of the belief that you should be perfect, and your work should be done the first time. If all people did their job perfectly, then there would be no need for collective work, meetings and the exchange of ideas. People are forced to support each other, discuss the results of joint work, make suggestions and point out mistakes. Even the most senior managers do not make important decisions alone. Because they know that every person is wrong.

Learn to calmly treat your mistakes and shortcomings. No matter how hard you try to do something, no matter how ambitious goals you set for yourself, no matter how sensitive you are about your tasks, there will always be room for mistakes, imperfections. We are all human and we are all limited by our knowledge, experience, and convictions. And the more we think about what should be perfect, the further we move away from ourselves perfection! What we fear will eventually become our reality! Rejecting criticism, rejecting everything that does not correspond to our idealized ideas about ourselves, about our work, we refuse to learn. We refuse to get better. We refuse to move towards perfection. The vitality of our illusions and precarious ideas about ourselves becomes more important for us than any development.

I will tell you about how destructive these attitudes can be in the next paragraph, giving an example from life.

Rule 7 – Do not argue with someone else’s impression, listen to him

Several years ago in one forum I saw a request from one participant to evaluate his online project. The idea of ??the site was curious. But the implementation was quite low: small print, lack of paragraphs, confused style of presentation of information, difficulty with navigation, completely ugly design, lack of optimization.

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Critics voiced all these shortcomings, showed examples of successful sites and made suggestions on how and what needs to be fixed for the site to become popular. That is, the criticism was aimed more at help than at denigrating the work of this person.

But the author of the site stubbornly disagreed with criticism. He said that the font and navigation is actually normal, and the site does not need to be improved. And the critic, in his opinion, was simply mistaken in his assessments.

But in your impression you can never be mistaken! If on someone your work produces a repulsive effect, then this effect is what it is. If someone says that he is uncomfortable reading the text on your presentation or his eyes are straining the colors of the design you have developed, then he most likely does not deceive you. Yes, this impression may change with time, but now it is just that and, most likely, not just. If you are doing work for people, and not to admire it alone, then, especially, it makes sense to listen to the opinions of people.

The author of the site I was talking about could listen to the opinions of those who tried to help him make the site better for the public and, perhaps, win over his loyal readers. But in order to do this, he needed to get rid of the installation, that the result of his many months of work had to be perfect. But he was convinced of the correctness of his assessment, that he knows everything better than other people whose impressions are “wrong”, and no one except him can appreciate his work. From the very beginning, he did not want criticism, despite his request. He wanted to get only praise for the work done. And in sacrifice to his self-conceit and stubbornness, he brought a potentially successful project. His site no longer exists.

Rule 8 – Use someone else’s opinion to complement the perspective.

Different people think differently. They see the situation differently. They notice what others do not notice and, on the contrary, do not see what you see. That is why we are forced to cooperate: our points of view complement each other, even if, at first glance, it seems that they are in conflict.

It is like looking at the same point on the landscape, but from different sides. You are standing on a hill from the north, and your colleague surveys a point from a plain in the south. You see the landscape above: the roofs of houses, the peaks of the towers, but you are not aware of the actual height of the buildings. Whereas, if you look at them from below, your eye will notice more precisely how much buildings differ in height from others. And the contradiction generated by a look from different perspectives is only imaginary.

Open cooperation, readiness to accept someone else’s point of view gives the volume, depth and completeness of the problem under consideration, be it your relationship, your work or you yourself.

Rule 9 – Rate the Situation

Ask yourself: who criticizes you? Maybe this is a man who from the very beginning was opposed to you? Or one who feels important when he criticizes others? Or is it your friend who loves you and wants to help you? Depending on the answers to these questions, your reaction to criticism will change.

Also ask yourself questions: why are you being criticized? Fair criticism or not? Do you understand me correctly? Did I give any reason to criticize me? Perhaps you will understand that it is not clear that they conveyed their thoughts, which caused an adverse reaction. Or your work does contain some flaws that you can fix, instead of convincing everyone that it is perfect.

Rule 10 – Give thanks for your criticism. Use it as an ego trainer.

Before you rush into controversy, mentally thank the person who criticizes you. After all, criticism helps you to become better! I already wrote that it points to your mistakes and helps you avoid them. But not only truthful and polite criticisms can be useful to you! Strange as it may sound, but the most useful criticism for you can be the most unfair and insulting!

On my site, some people sometimes leave impolite, offensive and unfair comments about my articles, sometimes passing on to my personality. But precisely such comments harden my ability to calmly respond to unflattering criticism, not to give in to my emotions. I call these comments: “simulator for the ego . ” Only the most unflattering critic can awaken my Ego and leave me alone with him, see him at the highest point of passion and curb it. It is hard and not always successful. Sometimes, this struggle leaves a heavy emotional wounds. But if these wounds are left alone, let them heal, and the fire storming inside is extinguished, then sooner or later, flowers of experience, development and knowledge will appear in their place.

“Trained”, which is immune to the insults of the Ego – a pledge of self-confidence , unshakable self-esteem and solid character!

I find it unpleasant to hear feedback from those who do not appreciate my work, like any other person. Especially if a lot of energy and moral strength are put into this work. But often it was from these reviews that I had a breakthrough in understanding: strong emotions did not let me forget what I was told, and I returned to these offensive words again and again. But gradually the veil of emotions subsided, and the truth was revealed. I have seen that even the most offensive criticism may contain some sound grain. The angry reaction of a person can be the result of his personal problems, but at the same time, it can be caused by something in me and point to something. Let his personal perception strongly distorted what he was trying to tell. But I can take his message and decrypt it, remove all unnecessary from it and use it for myself!

Therefore, remember that whatever criticism is: soft or aggressive, truthful or inadequate, motivated by love or hate, it can all be useful to you! You can find bits of truth in it. And even if you do not find it, it will harden and strengthen your ego. Therefore, always thank people for criticism (not necessarily in words, you can do it in your mind), because they do you an invaluable service, even if they themselves do not know about it!

Rule 11 – Access Statistics

Often criticism is subjective. Instead of losing your balance of mind because of the opinion of a single person, think about what other people think about the subject of criticism? If someone criticized your work, then find out how your other colleagues rated it. If someone criticized you personally, remember what your friends think of you. They communicate with you, love and respect you despite all your shortcomings. You may also ask yourself, what do you think about yourself and your work? You also have a great right to vote and to participate in these statistics! Often we are so much worried about the opinion of another person that we forget to ask ourselves what we really think about it.

Opinions are subjective, we all know this perfectly, but do not use this knowledge. Thousands of laudatory reviews about us and about our work can pass by us unnoticed by us. But a single negative review can deprive us of our mood for whole days! But such reviews will inevitably arise, especially if a lot of people value your work. (Remember the aphorism of Aristotle at the beginning of the article?) This is natural. You can’t be perfect. You will not please everyone.

Rule 12 – Do not get involved in meaningless arguments

Try to listen to criticism, if it is reasonable, and just pass by it, if it is not true. It will save you time and nerves. In my article “ How to stop arguing, ” I wrote the following. When a person argues, his mind is completely focused on carrying out an attack on an opponent or on the implementation of the defense of his own point of view. He is not interested in truth, he either defends himself or attacks, being unable to understand and perceive. This makes it difficult to get the benefit of criticism and improve, and also gives rise to many unpleasant emotions.

Of course, senseless disputes should be avoided, but this does not mean that in situations where the public is waiting for your answer, you should silently accept any, even the most unfair criticism. Sometimes, however, attention should be paid to the shortcomings of criticism or to its incompatibility with its subject.

Rule 13 – React When Needed

In this article, I wrote about the importance of accepting someone else’s criticism, listening to it, and showing respect. But there are situations when criticism turns into rudeness and insult. And you need to respond to this in accordance with the situation. If someone insulted you on the Internet – pass by. If in real life someone regularly offends you, then it cannot just be silently tolerated. I hope that your wisdom will tell you how to deal with this situation.

The opinion of other people about you does not always stem from real facts. Sometimes it is only the result of their personal conjectures, the projections of their fears on you. It happens that people have a negative impression of your personality or your work as a result of a runaway impression, their tendency to generalize and not see the whole. Often the person’s opinion of you, expressed in criticism, is only his personal problem, not yours, even if there is some truth in this opinion.

Feel free to take this truth, use it for your needs. And leave all criticism and bitterness to the critic himself, let them stay with him!

Remember, the opinion about you exists only in the minds of other people and, more often, it remains there if you do not let it in yourself. Give people the right to carry in their heads any thoughts and opinions they want! Do not make a big deal out of the fact that this opinion is such and not some other.

But, nevertheless, one should not avoid reacting to all criticism. Sometimes you can be criticized just to cause your annoyance, or simply out of a desire to offend you. Such criticism can be intrusive and annoying, and you cannot leave it as it is, but respond.

In many situations, you still have to defend your opinion, cut off unfair attacks and defend yourself. If you had to do it, then do it with a calm heart, without undue resentment. Be persistent in defending your opinion, where the situation requires perseverance, without losing tact and listening skills.


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