In an ideal world, your performance would be perfect 100 percent of the time and no one would ever have anything negative to say, right? But, the reality of it is no one is perfect 100 percent of the time (also, that’s boring) and we all could improve in different areas of our career, our creativity and even just our day-to-day tasks. Some people are born with the ability to handle criticism better than others. Even when the feedback you’re receiving is true, it can still sting when you’re told that what you’re doing could be better. A lot of people react defensively in the heat of the moment, and that never turns out well for anyone. Especially with the internet providing an open forum for anyone and everyone who has a thought in their head, you’re going to receive criticism for the rest of your life. For the sake of this post, I’m not talking about mean, unnecessary criticism (i.e. internet trolls who have something to say about your appearance). No, I want to look at ways to accept criticism that is constructive and intended for good. And I’m going to do it the best way I know how—with RuPaul gifs.
Pause Your First Reaction
Whenever we’re criticized, it’s natural to want to defend yourself. When you’re receiving criticism, solicited or not, stop your first reaction. Take a beat. Pause. And I don’t just mean your words. Your facial expressions and body language say just has much as the words coming out of your mouth do. A couple of seconds is all it takes for your brain to process the information more thoroughly and allow you to respond more gracefully.
Never interrupt someone when they’re giving constructive criticism. I know the natural response is to want to jump in and add your two cents, but hold off on that. Listen so well that you’re able to repeat back to them what they have said to you. “I’m hearing that you’d like for me to work on my time management skills so I can stay on top of my goals, correct?” Listen, process and repeat the information back to them to make sure you have a full understanding. People often interpret criticism as a loss and feel vulnerable, so it’s important to clarify and make sure you both understand what the other is saying. Deconstruct the feedback by asking questions. Try to avoid engaging in a debate; instead, ask questions to get to the root of the actual issues being raised and possible solutions for addressing them.
Say “Thank You”
We never know the motivation behind criticism, but even the most well-intended comments can be fueled by a bad day or a negative experience. Now, I’m not saying you have to thank internet trolls who commented on your complexion or weight. That’s not criticism, that’s just being an asshole. But even if you do receive criticism that feels harsh or unfair, thank them. Reframing the criticism with an attitude of gratitude is beneficial for both the giver and the receiver.
Try to have a bit of empathy for the person talking to you. They may think that they are being polite when they are actually being aggressive. Or they may be so nervous that they may default to talking too much. In any event, you may feel calmer if you are studying the other person and able to reframe the conversation with empathy. Reframe the way you take feedback from others. Focus on helping your boss, co-worker, family or friend (instead of just yourself), and you’ll find that criticism is much more beneficial for both parties.
Don’t Rationalize or Justify
Again, being defensive isn’t the right way to handle criticism. It makes you come off as arrogant and stubborn. You want to accept criticism with grace and appreciation. Take criticism seriously, but not personally. We can’t control others, but we can work on ourselves. When we accept criticism, apply it and move forward, not only do we benefit, but others benefit from our example.
Embrace the Opportunity
You can do the same thing with criticism: find the positive in it. Sure, it may be rude and mean, but in most criticism, you can find a nugget of gold: honest feedback and a suggestion for improvement. When someone provides you with tough feedback, you should take the opportunity to learn and grow. Feedback, even that which you don’t agree with or didn’t invite, is where growth, development and breakthroughs happen. No one derives pleasure from being criticized, but we can grow from it. Instead of taking something personally, ask yourself what you can learn from the situation and how you can improve and flourish moving forward.