You can grow from criticism

Criticism means the expression of disagreement of someone or something that is based on perceived beliefs, faults and mistakes.

ALL of us have been criticised, sometimes unfairly. We have all criticised others at one time or another. To be critical is human.To criticise is to pass judgement on something or somebody out of our personal interpretation of what is good or bad. Some are better than others in this business of offering criticism.

We know the odd individuals among us who criticise everything and everybody. They probably have a bloated self-image, thus appointing themselves as the ultimate judge of everything human. Their constant whining criticism probably stems from their need to assert their sense of superiority. It is often an inferiority complex working in reverse gear.

Negative criticism

It is made out of spite, to put down or demonise the party or thing being criticised. Sometimes, it is made out of good intention, but from the perspective of prejudice or ignorance. The best negative criticism may point out a problem that everybody knows about, but it offers no solution.

Constructive criticism

It is born out of genuine concern or even love for the person or thing criticised. The best critics are those who have knowledge and experience in the subject matter, and have given long and careful thought to the matter at hand before they even open their mouth.

A constructive critic will foresee a problem before anybody else does, and he will also offer options and solutions towards solving the problem. He may even be ready to offer his service towards solving the problem. A leader in any field must also be a constructive critic.

A good critic will always be courteous in his manner and language, so as not to antagonise other people. His intention is perhaps to encourage and stimulate healthy debate and promote common understanding, and so he will avoid totalitarian absolutist condemnation. In short, good criticism must start on a humble standpoint.

Every day, I get emails and comments that are amazingly positive and encouraging, and in truth these messages are the very thing that sustains my blogging. However, I also get negative comments now and then: criticism of my writing, and not nice criticism either.

How do you deal with criticism? I think the first reaction for most of us is to defend ourselves, or worse yet to lash back.

And yet, while criticism can be taken as hurtful and demoralizing, it can also be viewed in a positive way: it is honesty, and it can spur us to do better. It’s an opportunity to improve.

How to take criticism as a stepping stone

1. Do not answer immediately

If your first reaction is to lash back at the person giving the criticism, or to become defensive, take a minute before reacting at all. Take a deep breath, and give it a little thought.

It’s natural for us to get a little angry when criticized but do not react right away. Take your time before you respond. The cooling off time gives you time for a more thoughtful response. It allows you to be less emotional and calmer with your response.

2. Give it a deep thought

One of the keys to my success in anything I do is my ability to find positive things in things that most people see as a negative. Sickness forces me to stop my exercise program? That’s a welcome rest. Tired of my job? That’s a time to rediscover what’s important and to look for a better job. I had a laptop crash which took all my saved possessions. This allowed me to realize that my stuff wasn’t important, and to be thankful that my loved ones were still alive and safe.

You can do the same thing with criticism: find the positive in it. Sure, it may be rude and mean, but in most criticism, you can find a nugget of gold: honest feedback and a suggestion for improvement.

For example, someone may criticise your writing.  This actually happened to me when I started blogging. Extremely excited, I gave my first piece of writing to my friend who is an auditor and the response I got from him is definitely not what I expected. He laughed and mockingly said, you do realise that your 4 pages of writing can all fit half a page if you stop repeating the same things over and over again which is quite monotonous.

I was a bit hurt by how he put it across but now I want to admit. Part of the writer in me today owes it to him for the feedback he gave me. Because instead of allowing my hurt emotions to get in the way, I asked him for pointers on how I could improve, and I got them and every time I write, those pointers always keep me in check. It was better to allow him to mock me and correct me before I could let my first post get out to the world.

Sometimes it’s just someone having a bad day, but many times there’s at least a grain of truth in the criticism. See it as an opportunity to improve — and without that constant improvement, we are just sitting still. Improvement is a good thing.

3. Focus on the message and ignore the tone

For example someone says to you, you are an idiot, how does X lead to Y. Most of the time we get carried away by the insult but my advice to you is, ignore the insult. Focus on the point they are making like in this case, they are questioning how X leads to Y.

By ignoring the insult, you accept criticism gracefully and get an opportunity to improve

4. Thank the Critic

Be polite when responding to criticism. Even if someone is harsh and rude, thank them. They may be having a bad day or maybe that’s how they are generally. All the same, thank them for taking the time to say something. It is unexpected but often appreciated.

 Learn from the Criticism
Use the criticism to improve yourself. No matter how right you think you are and how wrong you think the critic may be, always search if there is room for you to improve. Even if a comment is mean, always ask yourself, “does this person have a point (despite their rude tone)?”

5. Ask them for advice on how to improve

Turn the criticism into a discussion.
Sometimes criticism is a personal attack. But in other instances, it’s not. Take it as a criticism of your actions, not your person. If you do that, you can detach yourself from the criticism emotionally and see what should be done.

Do not seek to defend yourself or attack the criticiser, rather respond in a calm and positive manner and ask them how you can improve. If they are genuine about the criticsm, they will let you know.

Criticism focuses on what’s wrong and the person’s personality.  Feedback focuses on how to improve and the person’s behaviour. Criticism devalues and implies blame, feedback encourages and focuses on the future and solutions. Criticism is about controlling and knowing what’s best, feedback respects somebody’s autonomy/ choices even if you don’t agree with them

1.      Criticism is a form of communication

If someone criticises you, it means you are getting feedback. Regardless of the fact that the feedback may be rude but it means you have done something that they have noticed. That is the starting point. Criticism means someone actually decided to take their time and evaluate what you are doing. Laying the motives aside, this alone is important, they took their time to give you that feedback.

Criticism shows that people care about you enough to want to talk to you, or give you a moment of their time. Receiving feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, is a good thing because it just goes to show that your peers are invested in what you are doing. Rather than letting you fail the critic feels that you’re the right person for what you are doing.

2.     Criticism gives you a new set of eyes

In whatever product or service you are making, feedback is crucial. You can never know how other people regard your product or service if they don’t give you feedback. Feedback helps you look at what you are offering from another person’s eyes. Even though you may think that you are offering something good, you can never know for sure unless someone confirms or refutes it to you. It helps us see certain things that we may have missed because we are so deeply involved with what we are doing. It gives you a fresh perspective. No matter how much invested in a project you are, another set of eyes is always important and required because it represents the opinions of another set of group of people not necessarily the critic alone.

Criticism helps to give us a new perspective and opens our eyes to things we may have overlooked or never considered. Whether it’s a review of your work or a performance review, criticism can help you grow by shedding light and giving you the opportunity for improvement.

3.     Criticism forces you to think deeply about what you do

Sometimes we are just so focused on doing our things that we never take a moment back to relly think about what we are doing or the impact it is making to others. Criticism gives us an opportunity to think deeply about what we are doing. It helps us to be objective.

4.     Criticism gives you an advantage

Criticism gives us a chance to improve. This gives us an advantage to be able to offer a better product or service. It is more like an evaluation that we get freely without paying for it, use it to your advantage. Nothing is perfect, criticism helps you realise where you can improve.

5.     If used properly it can build you relationships and audience

The way you respond to criticism can either help you build relationships or tarnish your image. If you respond in a polite and courteous manner, you not only win the critic but even the audience too. Don’t take criticism personally, take it as an evaluation of your work and desist from attacking the critic or being aggressive with your feedback.

How to use criticism to your advantage

If you’re going to do anything interesting in the world, criticism is an unavoidable fact. You’ll be criticized, because you’ll make mistakes, because some will be jealous, because people have different opinions, because people want to help you, or because they just want to pull you down.

Never let criticism bring you down. Do not get discouraged or give up. Rather improve on whatever you are being criticised about. Do not be defensive or aggressive about it, otherwise you won’t see the point being made.

Naturally as humans, if we feel that we are being attacked, our first reaction is to retaliate, be defensive or aggressive but please don’t! Criticism calls for submission and sometimes it is belittling. But even if you feel you are being criticised unfairly, be the bigger person and safe the… from the ….. Let the criticism work to your advantage. Either use it to win relationships or to gain respect from the way you handle the critic.

Just remember, it’s important that you don’t take criticism so personally, it’s meant to help you learn and grow and is not an attack on your skills or character. If you want resistance, criticize.

I would love to hear from you so please, leave a comment for me below and may you also promote my blog by sharing it with at least 3 people.


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