Receiving criticism (series)

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

 

 

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

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Last week we looked at asking questions to those that criticize us (negative inquiry). This week we explore how to agree with valid criticism, a technique called negative assertion.

 

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.

 

Be Honest with Yourself; Negative Assertion

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

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Last week we examined how to distance ourselves from defensiveness, this week we explore the strategy of asking questions, a technique called negative inquiry.

 

Ask Questions; Negative Inquiry

 

This can be scary at first but it does get much easier with practice. Ask questions to better understand what the person means. This will not only serve to expose unwarranted and malicious criticism but, if it is warranted, give you a much better idea as to what specifically you did which caused offense, difficulty or problems.

 

In the moment it can be hard to think of the right questions to ask so here are the best questions to draw out more specifics from the person who has criticized you:

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

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

 

At the times in my life when I have faced criticism I found it difficult not to take it as a personal assault. What was the most challenging was when those words were spoken by those closest to me, those that knew me well – those who I both loved and respected.

 

I find it easier to digest what has been said and objectively assess what I agree with when I reflect, often resolving to work upon the areas that I think are valid in retrospect. But in the moment I find it difficult to avoid being defensive and accept the validity of the criticism received, or parts thereof.

 

As I learnt about assertiveness more, I discovered ways to identify malicious criticism as opposed to genuine constructive criticism. Although put downs are easy enough to pin point genuine constructive criticism can still sound unconstructive and harsh, after all not everyone is diplomatic and sensitive in their use of language when delivering valid criticism.

 

In this series I will outline the techniques that have helped me deal with criticism more effectively. When it comes to criticism we no longer need to feel like a victim, we can rather empower ourselves, using it as a catalyst to grow into our best selves.

 

Top Tips to Distance Yourself from Defensiveness

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