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5 Ways To Deal With Criticism and Critics

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

As determined and ambitious professionals, we aim to build a great reputation and become known as an ardent professional in our domain, as well as being known as a totally awesome nice guy, right? We help others where we can; we say good things about people. We get ourselves ‘out there’… Unfortunately, the more you put yourself out there, the more you open yourself up critics and criticism.

You know the type – these are the a-holes who go out of there way to disagree with you. These jackasses and aren’t afraid to point out your every mistake, and pull apart your work for the sport of it. We just rise above it, yes? Sometimes, perhaps most of the time… but not all of the time, I’ll bet. This constant negative criticism can be upsetting and hurtful – it can knock the wind right out of our sails.

We want to remain calm, collected, steady. We don’t want to let it get at us and ruin our day. Heck, this outfit I am wearing is too good to be ruined by sagging shoulders! This is how to let these waves of negative energy wash off us like water from a duck’s back:

  1. Don’t take it to heart– sure, most of the crap thrown your way may be a personal attack, and then sometimes we just interpret it that way. Often, what looks like a personal attack is a genuine, constructive stream of feedback, perhaps clumsily executed.
  2. Stay calm, don’t react immediately – Give your brain a chance to compute the situation, so take a deep breath. Even if the person is spoiling for a scrap, keep your calm as you will need to remain focused and with composure. You know already, but a fight in the workplace is an instant path to dismissal (and perhaps criminal repercussions too), but even if it doesn’t go that far it is likely to result in you losing work and ruin your reputation.
  3. Maybe, they could be right? It’s sometimes a hard pill to swallow, but it is possible that those guys who keep on at us are in fact right. I hate to say it, but it has happened to me on more than one occasion. I dismissed the comments, and pooh-poohed the criticism… only to find out that everything they said was bang on. What an idiot I felt, and I can remember thinking “why didn’t I listen…?” So the moral is to give the critics a little air time and make sure what they say isn’t the truth. In the days of social media and blogging, there is ALWAYS somebody out there more qualified and knowledgeable than we are. If this is an opportunity to learn, then grab it.
  4. Consider the so-what? factor – not sure about you, but I sometimes get into arguments about something where winning results in nothing for me except a moral victory. Do you? Then I have to ask myself – so what? Why do I even enter a potentially damaging quarrel that results in no gain? Consider the so-what? factor before letting your blood pressure rise!
  5. Shrug it off – If none of the above gives you an answer, then try doing something really simple: shrug it off. It’s a fact of life that not everyone is going to find you agreeable, or agree with what you say or do. Nor should they. If your quarrel is not something you can learn from, then ignore it and move on. Grin, and bear it.

Despite being close to it, we’re not super-humans 😉

We find negative criticism hurtful and tiresome if we let it. Best option is to find a way to cope and move on as quickly as possible.

And for your interest and amusement, here are some wonderful quotes on arguments.

The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.
Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist.
Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause.
Victor Hugo (1802-1885) French poet, dramatist and novelist.
An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) Third president of the United States.
We are not won by arguments that we can analyze, but by tone and temper; by the manner, which is the man himself.
Samuel Butler (1612-1680) British poet and satirist.
the more you put yourself out there, the more you open yourself up critics and criticism.
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This post is part 6 of 15 in the series Coping with Defeat
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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

2 Comments

  1. Eric Morkovich

    Thanks for article.
    I believe the primary rule when getting prepared to responding to any critic is to take a deep breath and relax… Then you can think of the situation and find the right words for your “counter-attack”

     
    • simonstapleton

      @Eric – yeah! The counter-attack doesn’t necessarily need to be personal or inappropriate, but sometimes we have to defend ourselves especially if false information is being exchanged. If we don’t relax, as you say, we tend to act emotionally and impulsively, which rarely results in the most elegant course of action! Thanks for your comment

       

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