What criticism is
Criticism can be defined as “The judgement or evaluation of the merits and flaws of someone’s actions or work.”
Why criticism is taken badly
If criticism is simply feedback on you or your actions, why is it taken so badly? Most people see it as a personal attack: something negative and painful that triggers all sorts of defence mechanisms. Many people take it as a sign of disapproval.
This is usually because of the way it is given, i.e., destructive rather than constructive. Instead of getting upset about the way it was delivered, consider carefully what was said. Deep down, do you feel there was some truth there? Can you use the information to improve yourself or the way you operate?
When you accept criticism happily
If you view criticism in a positive light you will see that its overall goal is to improve an area of a person’s work or life. When you want to achieve a specific goal you accept criticism from people you accept as being ‘entitled’ to give it, for example:
* Athletes and their coaches
* Musicians and their tutors
* Students and their teachers
* Learner drivers and their instructors
* Any mentor and their mentee
The list is endless. In that context you are quite happy to accept criticism.
When you hate criticism
However, if your partner, spouse, child or colleague tells you that you are doing the wrong thing or suggests you change something, you often take it as a personal attack and instantly become defensive.
Why? Mainly because it comes from someone you know quite well. You associate being liked/loved with not being told off. The fact is the more you love someone the more it hurts to see them doing something that is negatively affecting their life. This is why parents (who love you the most) give the most criticism!
And if it comes from someone you hardly know, rather than ‘hear’ what they said you fume about the indignity of it all. Also, when you are caught off guard it is difficult to accept. When you are in the right state of mind you are able to deal with it calmly.
How others view criticism
Look at how companies and businesses welcome criticism. They pay vast sums of money to have consultants tell them the unbiased truth about how they are doing. Look at how many restaurants and shops have suggestion boxes. They welcome the opportunity of customers telling them anonymously how they really feel about their visit or experience. Criticism is a way to develop and grow.
It is very interesting that when you pay for criticism you listen to it but when it comes from people for free, you do not see its value in the same way.
What criticism does for you
Look at criticism in a different light - a way to obtain free information that will improve you and your life (self empowerment). See friends, relatives and work colleagues as self development mentors. Seek their criticism often, never fear the answers and welcome the benefits. Here are just some:
* A wake-up call to get you back on track or heading in a new direction
* Shows you that others care about your pains and achievements
* Adds significantly to your emotional health and wealth
* Gives you clarity on your mistakes
It also prevents problems from worsening (or arising in the first place), e.g:
* If you think a relationship (business, social) is not working, ask direct questions
* If you think a friendship is on the brink of collapse, ask them about it
* If your children seem to be distant, ask for their feedback
See it as part of your self development and self growth. Be your own personal mentor, professional mentor or business mentor. The fastest way to grow and develop is to seek criticism and to truly listen to the feedback.
How to deal with criticism
Once you see the benefits of criticism you start to welcome it. With practice you stop being defensive the moment you perceive something as being a criticism. If you are unclear about what the person meant, ask them to explain further but do not react. Thank them for their feedback and take their words away to consider. Instead of feeling resentment or hurt, react in the following way:
* Hard as it may sound, be grateful to your critic
* Get used to saying "Thank you for your feedback”
* Do not defend yourself - just listen to their words
* For clarity, take things a step further and ask them to elaborate
* Think about what the person has just said. Is it true? Why do they perceive this?
Why YOU should give criticism
It is also of great value to give others constructive criticism. Most people think they will be resented for giving criticism as the need to be liked is so strong. However, you are rarely resented if you give it in the right way. Think about how you would feel if you were receiving the information. How would you like it to be phrased?
Wise people never look on criticism as something awful. They welcome it as an opportunity to grow and develop. If you are truly interested in personal development, self-growth, self development and personal growth, seeking criticism is one of the fastest ways to achieve your goals. If you are seeking your full potential and more success, actively seek criticism without feeling hurt or getting defensive. See it as a vaccination - it may sting at first but the pain soon disappears and the benefits are enormous.
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