How to avoid criticism damaging your self-esteem

For me working upon my self-esteem has been one of the most difficult and yet rewarding endeavors I have ever undertaken in therapy. One of the biggest lessons I learnt was that my character and my character alone was how I should measure how to view myself. Once I realized this everything else fell into place.


I finally understood that criticism, if founded, means I have done something wrong not that I am something wrong. Once I reached this understanding the impact upon my life was profound. I used criticism as a trigger to put things right if I had wronged anyone and to correct my behavior in future; rather than berating myself for messing up, I celebrated it as an opportunity to grow.


Receiving criticism in action: Evaluating role play

When role playing your responses to put downs, did you feel more in control of the direction of the conversation?  How did the role play make you feel? How did it help you? Thinking about the role play in this way will enable you to hone in your skills even more.


Receiving Criticism in action: Role play with a friend how you would respond to put downs

This is your opportunity to practice all the amazing things you would have said if you had thought of them in the moment (don’t worry very few of us do have an immediate reply to put downs).


Remember the key is to stand up for yourself by being assertive – this is the most effective way of putting them in their place and avoids unnecessary conflict or an unhealthy competition between one another’s put downs, which only serves to encourage and escalate the unwanted behavior.


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:


How to call someone out when you receive a put down

Malicious criticism usually takes the form of a planned and deliberate conversation and is easily enough exposed but what should you do when you receive an off the cuff put down? The tricky thing about put downs is that they often come by surprise and are only registered as put downs by the person on the receiving end after the fact. In future follow these simple steps to let the offender know what they said was not ok and you will not tolerate treatment of that nature moving forwards.



How to identify malicious or unconstructive criticism and expose those who deliver it

If someone is criticizing you and you are not being defensive and keeping an open mind it doesn’t mean that you are a walkover or that you will necessarily agree with them. Indeed, there are times when criticism is strictly unfounded, malicious and entirely unconstructive.


By asking the three questions outlined in yesterday’s post you will be both assertive and direct whilst keeping a calm demeanor to minimize potential conflict – all qualities that typically command respect in others. And the best bit?


How to recognize constructive criticism when you need to (and why it often sounds so unconstructive)

Lets just say that in my experience constructive criticism can be like a wolf in sheep’s’ clothing. What may appear to be a personal assault might actually be a valid criticism and worth taking on board. There are many reasons why constructive criticism can sound and be delivered harshly. If at work the corporate or formal environment may dictate it to be so for example but more often than not those providing the constructive criticism find it both difficult and uncomfortable and are often clueless as to how to best deliver it. This needn’t mean that it is unfounded or malicious.


The best way to decipher constructive criticism is to ask some very revealing questions, such as those below but be forewarned, whilst it does take great courage to do so it is well worth it as it could identify opportunities for your own personal development and growth.


How to keep your ego in check when receiving criticism

Even the most modest people can suffer from their ego being damaged as a result of criticism and  I can’t deny it was difficult to keep my ego in check when receiving criticism in the past. What helped me was remembering a few key things which reminded me that being defensive is often counter-productive. Please do bear in mind that being defensive is quite different to standing up for yourself, which I will go into in more depth later – please see below for a list of my ‘reminders’ that helped me receive criticism better.


  • I am not perfect
  • I make mistakes
  • I can admit to my mistakes without it being equal to a failure
  • I can learn from my mistakes and become better for it
  • Whoever is criticizing me may be able to offer insights into ways by which I can develop and grow
  • It is important to keep an open mind to different opinions to my own


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