How to Handle Criticism Like a Pro

Let’s face it – nobody likes hearing criticism, regardless of how well-intentioned it is. Although we might expect it or appreciate it sometimes, it is hard to feel warm inside when someone tells you that you fell short. But that’s human nature; and to be great, we must learn to handle criticism positively.

So, how should you handle criticism without allowing it to break you? There is never an easy answer to this because it depends on corrected you and their intentions. We ought to remember that it’s not possible to change what people tell us, but we can control how their words affect us.  

Whether you just received a rework request from your boss or your friends commented negatively on your dressing, there is a way of turning every critic into positivity. Here’s how:

Constructive criticism vs. destructive criticism

Criticism is an evaluation that could be either good or bad. Different people offer criticism for various reasons. Some do so because they wish the best for you while others are only insecure and jealous.

Positive criticism is known as constructive, while negative criticism is known as destructive.

Constructive criticism is offering kind feedback, and it can help the recipient to gain priceless insights into their actions. Destructive criticism involves accusing people and indicating their faults without bothering to offer suggestions for improvement. For instance, “This project could be better” is constructive criticism while “This project is terrible is destructive criticism. Like one would expect, destructive critics can hurt one’s self-esteem, making them feel awful for not performing as per the expected standards. Whether critics are helpful or hurtful, we must learn to live past it.

Here’s an action plan

Being thin-skinned to criticism can put you in a dangerous situation. Some people even stop working towards a goal because they fear being critiqued. However, never give up into the worries of being critiqued. Here are the action steps to take if you want to handle criticism like a pro.

1. Respond calmly

Be respectful to the critic regardless of the circumstances. Thank the person if the feedback is useful. Even if the criticism was destructive, kill them with kindness! If you cannot find the words to respond, smile and walk away.

2. Consider the source

Not everyone who offers criticism is out to destroy you. Being able to discern legitimate concerns from false alarms is your first step towards success. Criticism from a wise person is often valuable and truthful. So, it should be considered. You should be happy to receive it because it’s likely to make you a better person.

Whenever you are stung by someone’s criticism, try to see what the problem might be. Is it that the critic doesn’t wish you well, or did the information hurt? Does the critic understand your approach well or do they need more information? Is there something that you may have failed to notice in the person?

3. Acknowledge the truth

Regardless of the source of the critique, there is always some truth that has been said in that statement. Well, the exception to this is the negative people, who have nothing meaningful to say sometimes. The best thing about finding the truth in every criticism is that you will grow.

4. Get a friend’s opinion

Once you have listed a few things that you feel are true, ask a friend, your spouse, a colleague or a professional for their advice on what they think you can change in that area. Ask them to give you a sincere opinion, whether positive or negative. Since these people are close to you, they understand your strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, their views will not be based on one act, but on how they know you. That way, you will have a window to correct your mistakes and to grow.

5. Pray about it

If you are religious, praying about something that you feel has negative energy in your life is an excellent way of dealing with drawbacks. Religion teaches that you can surrender your weaknesses to a supreme being, God. When you pray, you will become a better employee, spouse, parent, boss, or a leader. Confession also breeds humility, which is one of the best qualities that a leader can possess.

6. Manage stress

When you are on the verge of negativity, it’s easy to get carried away, and you feel out of control. If you feel like the criticism has hit you hard, find ways to manage your stress levels. Remember to take deep breathes regularly.

People who struggle with depression and anxiety handle criticism harder than the others. On the other hand, perception of criticism can also cause social anxiety disorder. There are different strategies to cope with this: focus on the present, monitor and challenge your thoughts. Healthy lifestyle is also effective in reducing anxiety. Working out, spending more time in the nature, eating healthy, practicing mindfulness are activities that can help ease anxiety. Also, natural supplements and nootropics, herbs and vitamins are proved and effective remedies with no side effects, compared to medication.

However, if your anxiety is proving difficult to manage, please consult with health professional.

7. Don’t be hard on yourself

Remember that error is unto human. Being human allows us to make mistakes. The best thing is that there’s an opportunity to change. If you did not do well on that test and your tutor criticised it, you have other chances of correcting the mistakes. Be easy on yourself.

8. Keep on keeping on

The YouTube video you posted that received negative comments is a step towards becoming a better content creator. The project that your boss did not like is an eye opener to the things you can do to make it better. After all, failure helps us to know our strengths and weaknesses. Take your lessons and align them with your strengths. Focus on what you are good at and incorporate what you learned to make you a better person.

How should you handle criticism? What helps you make destructive criticism helpful rather than hurtful? Now you have all the answers. Take that leap of faith.

Annabelle Short

Annabelle Carter Short is an author, freelance writer and a seamstress of more than 7 years. When not working, she’s spending time with her family or putting pen to paper for her own personal pursuits.