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How To Manage Criticism

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Article by Julianna Suranyi

How To Manage Criticism

Nobody likes being criticised but, unfortunately it is a fact of life. Think of the last time you were criticised – how did you react?
To be able to respond to criticism with nobility and detachment is an important life skill, which few people have. If we respond to criticism without careful consideration, it can easily lead to unnecessary suffering.

You can only imagine how many times I have been criticised for what I do by sceptics, everyday people, religious people, media and the list goes on. But, I have never worried about criticism because of the way I view criticism.

So here are my key ways to view, assess and manage criticism next time you experience it!

1. Determine what you can learn from criticism.

Most criticism is theoretically based, at least in some small part, on some truth. Criticism may appear negative, attacking and detrimental; however through criticism we have the opportunity to learn, improve and grow from the suggestions.

2. Respond to the pattern not the tone of the criticism.

The problem is that people may make valuable critical suggestions because they have noticed how we do things in particular or behave in certain ways or even have certain types of people around us; this is called patterns. However, their intonation, diction, tone and style of criticism means that we respond not to the suggestions or patterns, but their confrontational manner. In this respect we need to separate the criticism from the style and tone of criticism. Even if people speak in a tone of anger, we should try to detach their emotion from the useful suggestions which lie underneath.

3. Value criticism.

The problem is that quite often, we only value praise. When people speak kind words we feel happy. When people criticize we feel miserable. This is the way we are now geared as a society: to only praise and build and not to be realistic and self-critical anymore. However, if we only receive insincere praise and false flattery, how will we ever make progress? If we wish to improve and develop we should invite constructive criticism and appreciate other people’s suggestions.

4. Don’t take it personally.

This is often the biggest problem which occurs with regard to criticism. If I criticise my Mother’s cooking, she feels personally offended. But, it is a mistake to identify ourselves with a schnitzel! Somebody may find good reasons why our cooking is bad; but, this does not mean they are criticising us and saying that due to our bad cooking we are bad people who cannot look after our family. When people criticise us directly, we should feel they are not criticising our real self, but just a presented aspect of ourselves. When we criticise others, we are perhaps criticising their pride or jealousy, but the jealousy is a mere passing emotion, it is not the real person.

5. Ignore false criticism.

Sometimes we are criticised with no justification. This is a painful experience. But, potentially we can deal with it more easily than criticism which is justified. One option is to remain aloof and ignore it completely. We should feel that false criticism is as insignificant as an ant trying to harm an elephant. If we remain silent and detached the criticism is given no energy and therefore no life. If we feel the necessity to fight it we can give it more importance than it deserves. By remaining silent we maintain a dignity that others will come to respect.

6. Don’t respond immediately

It is best to wait a little before responding. If we respond with feelings of anger or injured pride we will soon regret it. If we wait patiently it can enable us to reflect in a calmer way.

7. Smile and laugh

Smiling, even a false smile, can helps us to relax more. It creates a more positive vibration and smoothes the situation. It will definitely help psychologically. Smiling will motivate the other person to moderate their approach as you dampen the flames they are trying to build in you. Then laugh.  Why? Why not! Everyone is entitled to their opinion and you are entitled to ignore it!

Use these steps to view, assess and manage criticism next time you experience it and you will turn it into a great advantage.

31 Aug 2012

Last Update: 9 Sep 2012

Article/Information supplied by Julianna Suranyi

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.