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Back in the days when I held a job as a Banking Officer in a small bank, I had the task of packaging credit requests from small businesses and presenting them for management approval. After a year or so and several approvals under my belt, I felt a sort of guru at credit. So, I was lost for words when my boss took a less than complimentary opinion on a particularly tricky credit approval memo that I spent over three days writing.
She took a cursory glance at the typed sheets and tore them up and flung them in my direction. I was totally crushed, and I shuddered in suppressed rage while tears filled my eyes. I thought ‘How dare she,’ in justified anger as I stormed out of her office.
We all face criticism, in life, our jobs, or business. Criticism is an unavoidable fact of life. According to Aristotle, “There is only one way to avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”
I have received a fair amount of criticism in my lifetime, and over the years, I have learned how to manage blame and use it to become a stronger and more resilient person.
Here are some of the practical strategies that help me benefit from criticism:
1. Ignore destructive criticism
Destructive criticism is made with the intent to hurt you, to attack your self-esteem, or it can even be done to tarnish your reputation. When someone publicly attacks your abilities, mocks your ideas, mercilessly pokes fun at your physical attributes, then that person is a destructive critic.
When you identify criticism as destructive, to protect yourself, the best thing is to ignore it. You should shut off what that person is saying and stop listening. The sole intent of destructive criticism is to harm you, and you shouldn’t internalize such abuse and let it have adverse effects on your life.
Sometimes, ignoring criticism is not an option. If you receive destructive criticism regularly, then you can’t ignore it. If it is in an office environment, then you should report it to a superior you trust will do something about it. You should never subject yourself to such constant abuse in silence.
“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” – John Wooden
2. Value constructive criticism
As human beings, we will make mistakes because we are not perfect. Our mistakes can attract criticism from others. When this happens, we must see such criticism as an opportunity to improve ourselves.
I am sure you value praise more than criticism since that’s just being human. When people compliment us, we feel happy, and when we are criticized, we feel bad. However, the truth is that if all we ever hear from others is praise and flattery, we will never become better versions of ourselves.
3. Try not to take it personally and never lose belief in yourself
Often when we are criticized, we get defensive, and we lash out because criticism feels like a personal attack. But this is a wrong approach. Instead of taking the blame as a personal attack, you can choose to listen to what that person is saying and then decide if the criticism is constructive or destructive.
If it is constructive, you can learn from it. Alternatively, if it is destructive, you should ignore it and move on. Believe in yourself. That someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them right and make you wrong. They are entitled to have an opinion, and it is up to you to stand by what you believe and see things through.
“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” –Abraham Lincoln
4. Accept that criticism is a part of life
Criticism can be good or bad, but it is unavoidable. So you should get used to it, learn how to obtain feedback that will make you a better person from good criticism, and how to disregard hurtful and harmful comments that come with destructive criticism.
You can also learn from negative criticism. More often than not, there is an element of truth in every critical statement. You can identify the fact from what has been said and leave the negative and hurtful comments behind.
If you have been subject to constant harmful and destructive criticism, you should never let it change who you are.
You should remain confident in who you are. Confidence doesn’t mean arrogance or the belief that you are beyond criticism. Accept things you cannot change about your life, and love yourself for who you are.
How do you deal with criticism? Share your thoughts below!
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