receiving criticism in action
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?
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?
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.
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.
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’.
Take time to role play how you would have worded your agreement to the person who delivered the criticism, what would you have said and how would you have said it? Think carefully about what body language you would have used, the volume of your voice, your tone and inflection as well as how you would word things in a diplomatic way.
Take your example of a time when someone criticized you and explore if there was anything you agreed with, even if it was just agreeing with the fact you could have spoken softer in the moment.
Although it’s often hard to recognize the part we have had to play in high conflict situations or in the areas we are criticized in, the truth is often not so black or white. If you are being criticized about a high conflict situation take the time to reflect as there is usually at least some way we have contributed to the conflict, whether it be in our tone of voice, the things we said or our actions.
If the criticism does not concern a high conflict situation it is still just as important to be reflective, trying to see things from the others perspective but taking care not to accept it without careful consideration (after all it may be malicious criticism). Try to be as honest as you can when thinking about whether the criticism you received in the example you chose last week was valid in any way and write down the elements of the criticism you agreed with, if any.
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.
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.