There’s a saying that says if you’re not receiving criticism, you’re not trying very hard. Criticism comes in many forms and from many directions. There are of course two ways to handle criticism; you can let it derail you or you can deal with it. Here’s how to deal with criticism effectively.
Step One: Take a deep breath and adjust your perspective.
It’s easy to get defensive and to automatically feel attacked when you receive criticism. However, if you can adjust your perspective as you’re receiving the negative feedback, it’s easier to actually hear what the person is saying.
Step Two: Allow yourself time to evaluate the criticism.
Now, here’s the key. If you’re in the middle of a project or task that requires your full attention, you’ll want to cultivate the ability to set the criticism and your reaction to it aside until you can think about it clearly and without emotion. Once you’re able to give the criticism space in your thoughts, try to separate your emotional response from your logical one. Sometimes, criticism has validity. No one’s perfect and even if you’re darn close, there’s probably room for improvement.
Step Three: Be conscious of your thoughts.
So here’s the deal: we’re great as emotional beings at letting our thoughts take over. After receiving criticism, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed with negative emotions. We can feel angry with the person who criticized us and frustrated that our efforts weren’t received better. Our self-esteem can plummet and we may feel as if our goals and dreams are never going to be attained.
However, as emotional beings we also have control over our thoughts. The key is to become conscious of them first, to acknowledge the thoughts we’re having and then to change them. You can decide to focus on the positive. You can decide that your dreams and goals are worth achieving and you can decide that even though you received some criticism, it doesn’t have to ruin your day. It doesn’t even have to ruin the moment.
Finally, take that criticism and put it where it belongs.
If there’s some validity to it, then find out what you need to do to improve. If you’re unsure if the criticism has any truth to it, then seek a second and even a third opinion – but only if the criticism is important. If the criticism is totally off base, toss it in the garbage can like moldy cheese and let it go.
Because if you’re receiving criticism, it means you’re taking action. You’re doing something daring, worthwhile and challenging. And that’s always a good thing!