How to handle criticism: We’ve all been chastised at some time in our lives. One of the most crucial problems we confront on our path to adulthood is the ability to accept criticism assertively. A person who delivers reasoned judgment or analysis, value judgment, interpretation, or observation is referred to as a critic in Ancient Greek.
To accept criticism maturely, we must be able to receive input from others in the form of analysis, observation, or interpretation of our actions. Fair criticism is delivered in a non-threatening, polite, and constructive manner. It contains factual assertions and focuses on the activities that need to be performed rather than the person who is responsible for them.
After a presentation, for example, your employer could say to you, “Your slides didn’t work as well as they might have. People would have paid more attention to you if your slides had less text on them instead of straining to decipher them. It would also be more intriguing if there were more photographs next time.”
Unfair criticism may be offered in a harsh tone, using broad, unspecific phrases or generalizations, and possibly in front of other people. However, what truly distinguishes unjust criticism is when the comments “melt away” when reasonably challenged.
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Table of Content
Types of Criticism
Criticism may be constructive or destructive. Constructive criticism is intended to deliver real feedback in a constructive and non-threatening manner so that the person being criticized can learn and improve. The feedback is usually valid, in the sense that it is a genuine criticism.
“I loved the way you wrote your report,” for example, “but I think it might be even better if you concentrated more on correcting your spelling.” Destructive criticism is criticism that is either not legitimate or truthful, or that is conveyed in an exceedingly harmful manner if it is correct. It’s generally provided casually or with the intent to embarrass or injure someone. “This paper is dreadful, and your spelling is abysmal,” for example.
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Possible Ways to Respond to Criticism
1. The Passive Reactions of Criticism: If we are mostly passive, it may be difficult to respond appropriately to criticism. We may simply run and hide, hurt and puzzled. We may have a predisposition to agree with any criticism, no matter how valid it is. We feel horrible about ourselves after that. “You’re right, I am…., I’m useless, and I need to stop,” for instance.
A criticism of our conduct might be misconstrued as a rejection of ourselves. This kind of reaction can lead to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. We agree that the world is a cruel place and agree with all of the criticisms! Alternatively, we may laugh it off and condemn ourselves, even more, reasoning, “If I criticize myself even more and make it a joke, no one will know I’m wounded.”
This has the same long-term effect as openly apologizing for criticism.
2. Aggressive Responses to Criticism: If we tend to react violently, we will see criticism as a personal assault. When we feel assaulted, we become protective and may launch our attack. “How dare you, I’m not late,” for example.
You’re the one who’s perpetually late. This sort of reaction can lead to greater hostility and conflict, which can lead to despair and low self-esteem.
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3. Assertive Responses to Criticism: We can distinguish between constructive and destructive criticism and respond correctly when we respond assertively to criticism (see the skills below that describe how to respond assertively to criticism).
We can observe that criticism of our actions does not always imply anything about us as individuals. We don’t become defensive, enraged, blaming, hurt, or flee. We maintain our composure and take criticism without resentment.
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How to Handle Constructive Criticism Assertively
1. Acknowledge the criticism: If the criticism is justified, accept it without feeling embarrassed or other unpleasant feelings. Accept that you aren’t perfect and that the only way to improve is to make mistakes, figure out what has to be corrected, and move on.
Thank the person for their contribution, if it is appropriate. Consider it a gift.
2. Negative statement: This strategy entails not just accepting but also publicly agreeing with the critique. This is utilized when you are the target of genuine criticism. The technique is accepting criticism of your poor attributes without apologizing or allowing yourself to be destroyed.
“Your desk is quite messy,” for example, someone may comment. “You have a lot of disorganization.” “It’s true, I’m not particularly neat,” says the respondent. The key to employing negative assertion is confidence in yourself and the notion that you can alter yourself if you want to.
3. Negative inquiry: Negative inquiry necessitates a more in-depth examination. If you’re not sure whether a critique is valid or constructive, you should seek clarification. “You’ll find it difficult, won’t you because you’re shy?” asks the reviewer, as an example. “Do you think I’m bashful in any way?” I give my response.
If the criticism is constructive, the knowledge gained may be put to good use, and the communication channel as a whole will benefit. If the critique is manipulative or harmful, the critic will be called out.
4. Dealing with Destructive Criticism Assertively: Unfortunately, we will all be subjected to negative feedback at some time in our lives. This is harder to handle than constructive criticism.
We may become proficient at coping with these challenging circumstances if we practice the skills below. Remember that, like with any talent, it will take time and practice to feel comfortable utilizing these. Some of the abilities are similar to those used to deal with constructive criticism.
5. Negative Enquiry: It is used when It’s possible that you won’t know if someone’s statement is constructive or damaging criticism. We need to double-check what is being said.
If the critique is harmful, we may either argue with it as indicated above, or we can employ one of the defusing procedures listed below.
6. Fogging also known as Clouding or Defusion: The three terms above are all used to describe the same procedures. The approaches are designed to defuse a potentially hostile or uncomfortable situation. When criticism is neither helpful nor accurate, you can utilize this method.
When faced with negative criticism, most individuals either become passive and disintegrate or get aggressive and fight back. Neither of these options is a viable option. The approaches essentially find a way to agree with a little portion of what an enemy is stating. You may reduce the criticism’s damaging effect by remaining cool and refusing to get angered or affected by it.
7. Disagree with criticism: To cope with damaging criticism, the first tactic is to just disagree with it. When you disagree, it’s vital to keep your cool and control your nonverbal actions, particularly your tone of voice, because it’s easy to become angry or passive.
Maintain a cool demeanor and good eye contact. Consider: “You’re always late,” criticizes someone.
“I’m not usually late,” says the respondent. “I’m not always on time, but I’m never late.”
8. Respond to the words, not the criticism’s tone: When you’re being criticized, it’s critical to distinguish between the criticism’s ideas and how they’re being delivered to you. When individuals criticize others, they might come to seem confrontational, if not hostile.
This might indicate that we disregard what they’re saying, even if the critique is valid. We need to get better at distinguishing between criticism and criticism style. Even if individuals talk in an enraged tone, we should endeavor to separate their emotions from the practical advice that lies behind them.
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9. Don’t React Right Away: It is preferable to wait a few moments before reacting. We will quickly regret our actions if we reply with sentiments of rage or wounded pride. If we wait patiently, we will be able to reflect more calmly.
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Our reactions to criticism are mostly shaped by our childhood encounters with it. If we were never subjected to criticism as children, we may be heartbroken when we are confronted with it as adults.
If we were given highly constructive criticism as children, we may be able to deal with it effectively as adults. We may see criticism as hurting and rejecting if we have been forcefully and punitively rebuked. This latter scenario frequently occurs when our entire self, rather than simply our action, is attacked.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ChMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.