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6 Ways to Handle Criticism Better

Merja Willock
August 2, 2012
Merja Willock
Written by
August 2, 2012

Do you like being criticized? Do any of the below situations sound familiar?

  • You remember critique over praise, and it can ruin your whole day. You also remember all those things for years and have hard feelings toward people who you feel have mistreated you in some way.
  • You are predisposed to trying to please everyone. For you, reward comes from outside, and thus you seek other people's attention. However, you have difficulty believing the compliments that you are given, and you don't believe in yourself.
  • Your inner voice and translation system turns everything that you hear or read into negative toned critique.
  • When you hear critique, your first thought is that you have failed.

The better you know yourself, the easier it is to use tools that help you handle feedback and critique.

1. Know Yourself. Some people have a personality type that makes them extremely sensitive. I, for example, like many more artistic, creative and sensitive people am ISFP (Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, Perception) according to the Myers-Briggs test. Some of its characteristics mean that I'm extremely sensitive to any kind of criticism, and very often feel that I am being criticized even though that wouldn't have been anyone's intention. That, of course, makes it difficult to put myself out there fearlessly.

If you realize it’s in your nature, it can ease the burden that can cause you extra stress trying to figure out why you are so sensitive and take everything so personally. It's easier said than done, but try to take a look at the situation objectively from another person's viewpoint without mixing all of your own feelings into your experience.

2. Meet Up. Remember that reading emails or written words can give you a totally different impression of a message, and they can easily be misunderstood. Whenever possible, try to meet or at least have a video call with a person who is giving you feedback.

I'm so sensitive that I easily sense other people's energy, and if I only hear their voice without seeing their body language, I can easily make false assumptions. Some people also have a voice that can sound cold and callus on the phone, but when you see them face to face, the person can seem totally different in a positive way.

3. Ask for Constructive Feedback. Don't settle for only listening to what you could do better. You need to know why you should improve or change. Also ask what you have already done really well. Learn from your mistakes, and don't ruminate in negative feelings for too long, or let them prevent you from doing what you love.

4. Write it Down. Keep a record of all the compliments and praise that you have already gotten, and go back to them when you doubt yourself.

Likewise, at the end of the day, write down what you have accomplished and give yourself credit for that, instead of being your own worst critic by putting yourself down because of a sense that you didn't get anything meaningful done.

5. Focus on the Positive. Ask your friends, colleagues and family members what your greatest strengths are, and concentrate on improving them instead of worrying what you think you can't get done well enough.

6. Your Opinion Matters Most. Remember that there are as many opinions as there are people. Try to get rid of the feeling that you always need to validate your thoughts and ideas with someone else. There are perpetually going to be people who will criticize you, however those opinions are only a few of many. Concentrate on the positive feedback, and don't be put down because of negativity.

Learn to let go, and trust your own intuition and gut feeling.

Merja Willock author page.
Merja Willock
Merja Willock is a holistic health coach, visualist, artist, music and dance lover, currently searching for her creative spark in London, UK. She is the founder of Glowing Balance, a site for flickers of everyday inspiration, reflections, tools for creating inner balance and appreciating the present moment, healthy recipes and wellness tidbits. Merja's goal is to empower others to discover their strength and creativity within by providing guidance and information for self-acceptance and healthy balanced nutrition. She loves the evening sun, playing the piano, writing, inspiring details and street art.