We were having a conversation, and he was advising me on how to go about some things in the nearest future, to avoid making the same mistake twice. The conversation got deep, I got edgy, and I can’t even remember what happened, but I became so defensive at almost an instant.
“Zinny, I am not antagonizing you!” he said, looking so puzzled.
For a minute or two, I calmed down. Or so I thought.
But I’m happy I did. It was at that point in time I could reason along with him. He wasn’t scolding or yelling at me but I was just being unnecessarily defensive.
Maybe because I wanted to be right at all cost. Either way, we are all humans and we should learn more, learn to accept corrections, and strive to get better. We can’t know it all, we can only walk in that path of learning to know it all.
So I decided to handle criticism better.
Am I so perfect at this? No. But I try. I really try… because learning to handle criticism is a life skill and not everyone knows the best way to go about criticizing someone else.
What if you are caught in between someone who is terrible at giving criticisms? You should learn to handle criticism well in any situation you find yourself.
Here are ways to go about it.
Is there any truth to this criticism and can I learn from it?
This may appear weird especially because the person criticizing you is probably still talking, and you really want to speak up impulsively. Trust me, what you’d rather do is to take a deep breath. Calm down and just listen for a few more minutes, there could be some truth to it.
Now you are probably wondering, “how do I differentiate between a true or false one?”
This is quite easy. Check out for the justification in the criticism. For example, Jane is being criticized by Kenny for a bad job done by Mary; when in actual fact Jane shouldn’t be responsible for Mary’s decisions (depending on how things are run in this fictional workplace).
Let’s go a step further. If in this case, Kenny failed to supervise Mary as required of him. It all shows that Kenny is shifting the blame and failing to take responsibility. There is no justification for whatever criticism he has to offer in this case.
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
How do you handle false criticism?
Silence. When you are silent you hear a lot of things from the other person. You listen better and you are able to discern if it’s actually false criticism. This has a lot to do with effective communication. When you are silent, you don’t speak just to respond, but to make so much sense when you eventually open up your mouth to speak.
There is so much power in silence. No wonder I wrote this post on how introverts tend to behave sometimes.
This may seem so difficult, being accosted with irrelevant and false criticism, but it will pay you more to completely ignore it and avoid doing anything irrational. You’d keep your dignity and earn yourself respect from any negative person.
You should be concerned with the suggestion or advice not the tone of the criticism
Some people don’t have the best style or tone of giving criticism, and they appear so confrontational. It’s important that you look for the suggestion they are trying to give and avoid focusing on their tone.
Constructive criticism should be appreciated and valued because it will bring out the best in you. So try as much as possible to not take it personally, but take out the positive message from it. I believe that we should all learn to accept criticism every now and then especially if it’s constructive, rather than accepting false praise.
“I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses.”
Remember, how you react to a situation determines the type of person you are and how you would be perceived.
Now to you, how do you handle criticism? Please share.
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