Assertiveness

Receiving Criticism in action: How would the steps in this series help you to achieve your aims?

Spend five minutes outlining how, by using the steps outlined in this series, you would be able to feel the way you would like after receiving criticism (as revealed in doing yesterday’s ‘in action’ exercise).

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Receiving Criticism in action: List your aims

How do you want to feel in future after receiving criticism? Take five minutes to list the way you want to feel after receiving criticism in future. For example, do you want to feel empowered, more self-aware, eager to use it as a tool for future development, or even justified, should you have exposed malicious and unconstructive criticism?

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Receiving Criticism in action: Review

How would this week’s steps have helped both parties feel in control and validated?

 

Reflect upon this week’s role play and discuss with your role play partner the ways that – by saying sorry, asking for feedback and saying thank you – you both felt in control of the conversation, validated and heard and mention what was said to make you feel this way. Thinking back was it a cathartic exercise? If not, why not? Can you identify any areas which could be improved upon?

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Receiving Criticism in action: Did you think the role play was realistic?

When you role played saying sorry, asking for feedback and saying thank you did you think the conversation was realistic? If not, why not? How do you think emotion would impact the conversation? Role play again, this time with the person delivering criticism being more harsh and try your best to respond as outlined in Monday’s series post.

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Receiving Criticism In Action: Read Monday’s series post and role play

This week we’re building upon our receiving criticism assertiveness skills by taking our examples of a time when we received criticism and, after reading Monday’s series post, practicing saying sorry, asking for feedback and saying thank you in role play.

 

The aim is that in practicing the often pride-swallowing, cringe-worthy acts of saying sorry, asking for feedback and saying thank you we will better be prepared when a situation arises where we need to draw upon these skills.

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The criticism quandary; How to handle criticism and emerge bigger and better for it Part Four

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Last week we examined how vocalizing your agreement to elements of the criticism makes you appear balanced, rational, receptive to what is being communicated and open to changing where necessary. This week we look at how to wrap up the conversation in such a way that it leaves everyone involved feeling not only heard and understood but appreciated also.

 

The following steps are only relevant to situations where you believe the criticism not to be malicious put downs. Remember valid criticism can still be delivered in an accusatory way and that it is the content of what has been said – not the delivery – you need to focus on.

 

Say Sorry

 

Finally apologize for the part you had to play, mentioning whether there were any consequences to your actions that you regret, such as upsetting or offending others.

 

Ask for Feedback

 

Ask the person delivering the criticism how they think you could have handled the situation better and really listen to their answer. Then think how you might approach the situation differently in future and communicate this, taking on board any suggestions you feel are appropriate.

 

Say Thank You

 

Say thank you to the person who offered the criticism, say that you appreciate it is not an easy thing to do and briefly explain that you are grateful you now have a greater level of self awareness (such as insight into how your behavior impacts others, is perceived or can contribute to difficulties).

 

What to do Moving Forwards

 

Problem solve and brainstorm how you will better deal with similar situations in future, taking into account any ideas that were offered to you or you thought of during the conversation. For more on problem solving please read my article titled ‘How to navigate any problem with ease’.

 

Being open to criticism doesn’t come naturally for most of us, myself included, and when I started to practice these steps it was difficult as I had to let go of my ego and pride. But the more I practiced them, the easier it became and I have no doubt you will find this true for you too. Indeed, by using these steps you are disarming those criticizing you, identifying malicious put downs, diffusing any conflict and taking the opportunity to gain more self awareness and grow into your best self.

 

Though it may feel like you are making yourself more vulnerable in actual fact you are taking back your personal power and control of an otherwise potentially volatile conversation.

 

So the next time someone criticizes you don’t get defensive or shout back and disregard it out of hand, choose rather to keep calm and follow the steps – not only may you gain insight into ways you can develop into your best self, you will emerge as a mature and rational individual who others can’t help but respect!

 

Have you found this series helpful? How do you think you will handle receiving criticism in future? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, support and insight from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

 

Stay tuned – next month’s hot topic is called ‘Why spending could be damaging your dreams; How to create a budget that supports your life goals’.

 

Further Resources:

‘The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt’ by Deb Bright, PhD

 

 

Has criticism got you anxious or stressed? How to get back to feeling fab

It’s natural to sometimes feel anxious or stressed when receiving criticism however we should never underestimate the impact anxiety and stress has on us. Both stress and anxiety can have far-reaching effects which can seep into almost all areas of our life, leaving us feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

 

I always used to get confused between anxiety and stress but my therapist gave me an insightful way to distinguish between them. Whilst anxiety is invariably related to our perception of the future stress is a reaction to the present.

 

If you think you may be suffering with anxiety or if you often feel anxious when receiving criticism please read my article titled ‘Wars of the mind: How to effectively overcome anxiety’ which uses tried and true cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help reduce and even overcome anxiety.

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How to handle criticism (and actually feel good about it)

The most natural reaction to criticism is to feel awful or angry. The beauty about using assertiveness techniques is that it exposes whether the criticism is justified or not and, knowing this, you are then able to decide whether to take it on board or not. But what do you do if it is justified? Do you simply curl up in a ball and feel awful and helpless? Although I have been guilty of this in the past this is very seldom helpful.

 

The good news is there are so many ways to turn the criticism around so that – rather than feeling like a lost cause and helpless – you can instead feel empowered and optimistic! It’s just a matter of seeing the criticism as an opportunity to exercise empathy and understanding towards others, gain more self awareness, develop more personal responsibility in life and grow into your best self.

 

Of course this outlook and the process of developing more empathy, personal responsibility and working on improving yourself is never easy but never underestimate the impact of rewards! When you first discover a new weakness you possess and feel low treat yourself with pick me ups and walks (a ten minute walk has been shown to significantly improve mood). Then reward yourself every time you progress in the right direction like reading a self-help book or article, reacting to small things in a new healthier way or big treats like a weekend away for when you achieve a major breakthrough.

 

Some amazing treats are:

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How to turn the tables when you feel ganged up upon

One of the hardest things to handle is when you feel ganged up upon. Whether someone criticizes you in their home or office, if an authority figure berates you or even when there are two or more people against one, it’s easy to default into defensiveness without a second thought, often fueling potential conflict. I remember when two girls at work ganged up on me years ago over office politics… I didn’t handle it too well and I recall being so angry after the exchange, not just at them but at myself for not handling it better.

 

To avoid a roller-coaster effect should this happen to you it’s important to remember the basic principles of assertiveness:

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Receiving Criticism in action: Evaluating Negative Assertion

How does imagining your agreement to part or all of what the person said make you feel? Does it leave you feeling awful about yourself or empowered because you have taken control of the conversation? Do you feel optimistic because you now have the opportunity to develop this aspect of your behavior for the better or do you feel overwhelmed? How do you imagine your agreeing with elements of the criticism would have impacted the conversation?

 

It’s worth bearing in mind that if agreeing with criticism leaves you feeling awful about yourself you may have an underlying self-esteem issue whereby you either feel any weakness translates into having less worth or where you cannot accept weaknesses because it is too threatening to your identity. If you feel awful when you recognize possessing a weakness please read my Tiny Buddha article on self-esteem titled ‘Learning to Love Yourself; 3 Steps to Instantly Boost Your Self-Esteem’.

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