Do you have trouble accepting criticism, even if it for your own good? Do you feel personally attacked if someone tells you how to do things and the right approach to doing a task? Well, the truth is most of us are sensitive to criticism and struggle to handle it. We don’t have an open mindset to accept criticism and receive feedback, mainly due to the fear of being proved wrong or incapable. Nonetheless, there’s always a healthy way to deal with both positive and negative criticism, promoting growth in your personal and work life.
According to the PsychTests study, 31% of respondents have told more than once that they don’t take criticism well. At the same time, 34% of respondents become less motivated and don’t work as hard when their work has been criticized.
The numbers are shocking!
Not handling criticism healthily can be detrimental. It can even cost your productivity levels at the workplace. We intend to provide you with some proven tools that will enable you to accept criticism with an open mind through this post.
What Is Criticism?
Criticism refers to the act of demonstrating objection to something or someone based on some probable faults or mistakes. The term criticism gives a very negative vibe, but it is about feedback and evaluation.
Feedback is a gift that helps us to improve our work and hone our skills.
The perspective of the person critiquing makes criticism either hurtful or helpful—most of the time, criticism act as a term of evaluation and judgment.
We all face criticism at some point in time of time. We all work hard towards getting approval. Obsessing over what people might think is because we wish to avoid criticism. Sometimes we even argue and embarrass ourselves to avoid feeling vulnerable or in the spotlight. Just because we are afraid of being judged, we do not understand the difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism.
The difference between the two lies in the way the comments are delivered and received. Both of them challenge the way we think and the ability to do the work. Both of them are capable of bringing down confidence and self-esteem.
But only one would help you to rise back, while the other would push you further down.
There are two types of criticism:
What Is Constructive Criticism?
Constructive criticism is a friendly way of providing feedback that focuses on definite and actionable advice. Constructive criticism shows your mistakes and helps you learn to perform better.
For example, giving positive feedback to a Chef working at a restaurant about improving their menu is constructive criticism.
What Is Destructive Criticism?
Destructive criticism is a negative way of projecting one’s thoughts to bring down and undermine someone. Unlike constructive criticism, destructive criticism is downright malicious and hurtful, and it sometimes leads to aggression.
For instance, shaming someone for their looks is an example of destructive criticism.
Why Can’t Some People Accept Criticism?
Human beings love to feel validated and feel positive about themselves. When someone criticizes us, all our deep-rooted doubts and insecurities surface up.
In fact, people dealing with anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues are highly sensitive to accepting criticism from others. This happens because they tend to associate their identity with others’ judgments without differentiating the truth from the criticism.
Gordon Atlas, psychology professor, and researcher created a scale to measure how his study subject responded to the criticism.
According to the research, he discovered that those who have high sensitivity to criticism have low self-esteem and are likely to fear negative evaluations.
These are the few reasons why people cannot accept criticism:
- Low self-esteem
Also, the wounded inner child who resides deep within us gets affected whenever presented with criticism. This is more likely to happen to someone who had to live in a dysfunctional environment in their early childhood days where their caretakers regularly critiqued them.
How Does The Human Brain Respond To Criticism?
Dr.Martin Paulus, an Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, concludes that there are two parts of our brain responsible for the emotional and logical response to criticism:
- the amygdala
- and the medial prefrontal cortex
The amygdala is responsible for shaping emotional memories, whereas the medial prefrontal plays a crucial role in responding to emotional stimuli, i.e., criticism.
Also, one of the main functions of the amygdala is to predict any possible threat, which always throws our body in a fight and flight mode while handling criticism. For example, bad customer service might make the business owner feel like their business is jeopardized even though it’s not true.
The human brain doesn’t know how to receive constructive feedback. It is functioned to work on autopilot and stick with the negative experiences more than the positive ones.
However, with conscious effort, it becomes easier to handle criticism so that it doesn’t harm your self-confidence and productivity levels.
Smart Ways To Handle Criticism Like A Pro!
Smart Ways To Handle Criticism Like A Pro!
While it’s OK to feel down because of criticism, it is also imperative to be aware of how to handle it in a better way because otherwise, it could be detrimental to your mental health.
Never be afraid of being critiqued. Be prepared to handle any criticism by following these steps.
1. Do Not Take It Personally
Research studies show that people sensitive to criticism focus on the negative.
They often mistake considering constructive criticism as a personal attack, which might not be true in some cases. Maybe, the critique genuinely cares for you and wants to help you with their positive feedback.
- In such cases, don’t take it as a personal attack.
- Don’t feel defensive or sad when criticized.
- Instead, analyze the intention of the messenger.
- Take the criticism and work on it for self-growth.
- If you feel that you are encountering destructive criticism, remember that the critique here is projecting their negativity, and it is not about you.
- Set goals to overcome the shortcomings and prove them wrong.
2. Listen, Take Note, and Learn
- Sift through all the negatives and try to listen to constructive criticism.
- Hear what is being said and receive the feedback that holds value to you.
- Ask questions, too, is required to make sure you thoroughly understand that if the criticism is formed on practical grounds
Remember, constructive criticism is always given for self-improvement. If the feedback is negative, ignore the rude comments and instead focus on bringing the changes.
Learn from them because there’s no better way than improving from the suggestions of positive feedback.
3. Respond Calmly
We always go on defensive mode whenever we receive feedback that contradicts our judgment. Being defensive is never an effective way to handle criticism.
Be calm and never be rude. Always be respectful and thank the person for the valuable feedback. After all, it would help you bring improvement to your work.
Even if the critique is disrespectful, kill them with kindness. If you have anger issues, wait till it subsides. Let it settle down before you respond. Do not make it an ego clash.
4. Don’t Blow It Out Of Proportion
Overreacting is a relatively common reaction while receiving feedback.
It would be best if you were careful that you do not react in the manner of criticism. Don’t take the feedback out of its context in your mind. Discuss it to make sure you understand the critic’s intentions and later use them on your positive side.
Respond to the feedback and evaluation and never to the tone. Most people tend to react in an aggressive manner, which doesn’t solve any problem. Detach the emotion from the valuable suggestions.
An excellent way to practice that is to write all the criticisms after a couple of hours and distinguish the true ones. This way, you would be thinking from your brain’s logical part and would know what feedback actually matters.
5. Value The Criticism
Our mind is conditioned to accept praises and reject critiques. Kind words are always appreciated and make us feel good about ourselves, but when someone says harsh words, we feel miserable even when they are correct.
False praises and flattery are not helpful and would not help you get the best out of yourself. To progress, we need to improve, and constructive criticism helps. These words are what make you better.
Sometimes toxic family members keep pulling you down with negative criticism.
Be strong and pull yourself together, even if the comments are destructive, because you’ll know who really wants you to succeed and who doesn’t want the same.
6. Manage Stress And Get To Resolving The Problem
Often, we go on repeating the negative feedback in our heads instead of working on them. This further results in causing stress within us. Stressing over criticism is probably one of the unhealthiest ways to handle them.
Use criticism to tackle the problem. See where you can improve. Mostly we put ourselves under pressure because we take the blame to heart. Avoid being on edge all the time. Breathe in and breathe out. Resolve the issues raised and don’t get stressed about it; it is merely feedback!
7. Stop Over Analyzing
Overthinking is the thief of joy, and it can cost your mental peace at the same time. Rather than wasting your time on the blame, try and take action on the suggestion.
We tend to obsess over the way how they deliver feedback and who told us off. Take substantial steps to move ahead.
Try to work out how to bring these suggestions into action in your daily routine and stop overanalyzing.
8. Smile And Say Thank You
This criticism is just one person’s point of view for you. The best you can do is smile and move on. Be grateful for the inputs as it would help you improve and say “thank you.”
Embracing gratitude is the best attitude when dealing with criticism as it can help you overcome any negativities in life, let alone criticism!
The truth is you can never run from criticism wherever you go. Whether it’s at home or a workplace, somewhere or the other, you’ll be encountering critiques. Some will criticize you for your own good, whereas some may do it to downright humiliate you. But the important lesson is never to let them affect you emotionally.
Criticism is beneficial for your personal growth. It makes you humble and honest. Criticism also helps channel your instincts; it makes you emotionally stable and improves your relationships with your friends, family, partner, and colleagues. We need to learn that the person critiquing is just trying to help and not attack us. Be thankful and take criticism in its stride. After all, it is not the end of the world!
What are your ways to handle criticism? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Key Takeaways On Constructive & Destructive Criticism
- Criticism refers to the act of demonstrating objection to something or someone based on some probable faults or mistakes.
- Human beings get defensive while receiving feedback, whether it’s constructive or destructive.
- A study revealed that 31% of respondents don’t take criticism. And, 34% of them become less motivated and don’t work hard enough when criticized.
- However, constructive criticism helps one grow and learn from suggestions.
- There are two types of criticism- constructive and destructive.
- Constructive criticism is a friendly way of providing feedback. Whereas destructive criticism is a negative way of projecting one’s thought to bring down and undermine someone
How to accept criticism at work?
- Embrace feedback with an open mind.
- Ask questions about the received feedback.
- Believe in your work.
- Take help from a senior for help.
Why can’t I healthily receive feedback?
It’s normal to feel defenseless while receiving feedback. Most of the times, people cannot handle criticism due to:
- Low self-confidence
However, with the actionable steps mentioned in this post, you can deal with criticism in a better way.
How to answer the Interview question: How to handle criticism?
One way to answer this tricky question is to pick out instances from your real-life where you have been criticized.
For instance, you can inform your interviewer about the times you were criticized by your teacher for not doing well in the exam and how you improved yourself based on their feedback, only to score well in the next exam.
How to deal with criticism and accept it gracefully?
- Do not take it personally.
- Stop over-analyzing.
- Don’t blow it out of proportion.
- Stay away from focusing on the negative side.
- Listen and take notes to learn from it.
- Maintain your cool and respond calmly.
- Value the criticism.
- Manage your stress and resolve the problems.
- Smile and say thank you.
What are your ways to handle criticism? Let us know in the comments section.
Also, do subscribe to us for more articles like this. You can also follow us on our social media channels to support us.