Imagine you’ve just come up with a great new idea that could result in a win for your business or personal life. You’re excited to share it with those near and dear to you. However, when you do, they seem disinterested, or worse they nit-pick, question and offer unwanted advice. You walk away feeling deflated and discouraged. You feel judged, criticised and unsupported. Have you ever been taught how to deal with criticism?
In hindsight you begin to realise that this person/people are never enthusiastic about your growth and development. They always struggle to see your big picture or believe in your dreams. It’s almost as though they have a filter that blocks out the good and only focuses on the bad. But don’t worry, there are ways to handle these people.
Learning how to deal with criticism is an essential tool in your personal development kit, here are some of my suggestions:
- Recognise that It’s Not You, It’s Them – Honestly!
More often than not criticism reflects more about the person giving it than the person receiving it. If they are like this with you, you can be assured they are like this with others, it’s a pattern of behaviour they many not even be aware of. Possibly they feel threatened by your success because it doesn’t fit in with their plan for you! Maybe they feel uncomfortable with your excitement because they genuinely can’t feel it.
- Understand Their Underlying Message
Focus on ‘what’ is being communicated (their message) rather than ‘how’ they communicate (the words, tone of voice etc). Ask questions, “what are they really trying to say?” “why are they saying this?” Taking time to do this prevents knee-jerk reactions and allows you to become a better listener.
- Be Open to Feedback
One way to look at criticism, is to accept it as a form of honest feedback. We might not like it but at least with direct people ‘what you see, is what you get!’ This doesn’t mean you’re giving them permission to be rude or mean, but you are open to hearing their point of view. Personal and professional growth comes from learning how to deal with criticism and being open to honest feedback.
- Address Your Internal Discomfort
Awareness around ‘why’ their comments affect you and ‘how’ their comments affect you can lead to an awakening of self. This might be a painful but also very enlightening discovery. Sources of discomfort are often our compass to growth, pointing us in the right direction. Ask yourself these questions: “why am I feeling uncomfortable with their comments?” “What is it that is really bothering me?” You will find that initially your answers are directed at external events but the deeper you dig the more internally focused your comments will become.
I am not one to encourage people to ignore others, but sometimes that’s the only way to deal with them. Here’s a story that highlights this beautifully:
A wise old woman was well known for her ability to respond to evil with good.
One day a young man decided to test her.
He verbally abused her, insulted her, challenged her and offended her.
The woman was unmoved, she simply said “may I ask you a question?”
The young man replied, “what do you want to know?”
The old women said, “if someone offers you a gift and you decline to accept it, to whom then does it belong?”
The young man said, “it belongs to the person who offered it.”
The woman smiled and said, “that’s correct. So, if I decline to accept your abuse, does it not then still belong to you?”
The man walked away speechless.
Sometimes for our own sanity, we need to limit conversation and avoid contact. This gives both parties time to pause, reflect and grow. Personal growth develops maturity and acceptance so we can embody kindness.
- Show Them Kindness
Often our initial reaction is to be angry, mad or sad. But that rarely ends well for either party. What always calms poor communication is kindness. You are probably wondering, why should I be kind to them, when they have been mean to me? They don’t deserve my kindness. And you’re right, they don’t deserve it but they almost certainly need it! I love this quote from the movie The Peaceful Warrior, “the people who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most.” I believe this to be true.
If you ask, why are critical people critical? Why is it so hard for them to be positive or supportive? Why are they so scarce with their emotions? I reckon it’s because they lack it themselves. They are probably very critical of themselves, find it difficult to get excited about their own projects and don’t give themselves the love they crave. When we look at the situation this way, it becomes easier to drop them a compliment, give them a smile, or be supportive. This way you may have a positive influence on them, rather than allowing them to have a negative influence on you!
If you are struggling to deal with criticism, judgement or lack of support, let me help you. I offer a FREE call, click here to reserve a time that suits you and if I can’t help you I will put you in touch with someone who can.