Learn From Criticism!

Do not turn away, or ignore harsh criticism – It helps you to grow and develop.

Taking criticism in all the wrong ways is very common. It is natural to get defensive, but it is dangerous to always turn away, because you miss out on learning from it.

Always listen

Given that the vast majority turn away from criticism, there is a competitive advantage to listen – even if what you hear is merciless.

If you are one of the few that actually do listen, then you develop faster.

Reactions to criticism is often similar. Many begin to explain themselves, usually defending themselves by blaming whatever they can. And it is a really common defense mechanism to attack back.

Do not cry

Another common reaction can be to cry, which is a way to aggravate the situation.

– Men have often been taught not to cry. Instead, they go with “okay, then I don’t care about this” or “okay, I’m completely useless”. But it has the same effect, and usually only serve to make the situation worse.

The key is to listen – and observe our own way of reacting.

– Resist the urge to talk back. Maybe you can ask a question of “how do you mean?”.

Ask for a meeting

Afterwards you have to think about what there is to learn from the criticism – and to put an end to any blame that you might start putting on yourself.

– It is dangerous, it does not help you. Even if you think it was unfair, ask yourself what you can learn from criticism. And then drop it. Save your energy.

In some cases, for example if it’s work related, it may be appropriate to go back to the manager or the person who criticized you.

– If you see a pattern, or feel that you always get the blame, then you should ask for meeting to talk about it

You can not control how people will behave towards you. You can only learn how to manage criticism.

Learn how to deal with criticism

• Listen carefully to the criticism. Maybe you need to ask a question “how do you mean?”

• Learn to “hear” yourself. By what instinct do you react: Do you feel the desire to begin to explain yourself? Or fight back? Or do you respond to the situation with tears and drama?

• Fight the reflex of trying to defend yourself.

• Think “what can I learn from this” – even if the criticism was unfair or unnecessarily harsh.

• Try not to dwell on it. Drop it and move on.

• The exception is if you see a pattern, if, for example you always get the blame when something goes wrong at work. Then you obviously need to take it up with the person who criticized you.

• Remember, it is human that it hurts.

How to give criticism

• Distinguish between something that happened and the person. No personal attacks. However, please feel free to give credit to someone else’s personal qualities.

• Start by saying something good. Then you give criticism. And then, finish with something positive.

• No buts! Replace the ‘but’ with ‘and’.

– When you say ‘and’ instead it often sounds better.

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