Dealing With Destructive Criticism
Feeling bad about an unwarranted or unjust criticism is human, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are weak or vulnerable. It is unrealistic therefore, to expect never to be hurt momentarily by such demeaning utterances. Unlike constructive criticism, this criticism isn’t meant to improve yourself, rather, it is only intended to cause harm.
Whether it is coming from someone you respect or not, from a friend or a frenemy, it is still going to hurt anyway. Therefore, it is imperative to learn to shake it off and not feel overly depressed by it. Here are some suggestions.
1. Identify The Kind Of Criticism
Whenever you are being criticised the first step to take in order to deal with the criticism is to know the kind of criticism you’re experiencing. Is it a constructive or destructive one? This is important because this determines how to deal with the situation, since constructive criticism is meant to help you become a better person, destructive one has only one objective; it is meant to hurt you.
The answers to the questions below would help you identify the kind of criticism you are dealing with;
Who is criticising me?
What would the person gain from doing this?
What motivated the person to do this?
How is the person’s life currently; happy or unhappy?
Is this really about me?
What does the person want from me right now?
Is the person playing superiority?
Is there any truth in this?
Consequently, let’s consider four of the above questions and see its relevance. The first one is; Who is criticising me? The source of the criticism could help to discern its kind. For instance, imagine a friend tells you that you are too selfish. Ouch! That may really hurt. But what the friend is only trying to say is that you need to be more cheerful in giving. However, imagine it was a complete stranger that told you this. Since he knows nothing about you, there is no fact to back that statement up.
What would the person gain from doing this? Now this would show if the person is only trying to get you hurt or not. For instance, you are engaged in an argument, you and the other party are just throwing sour words at each other. A lot of you things you really don’t mean could be said. This is also related to the question; What motivated the person to do this?
However, in order to know the person’s motivation, you would have to put yourself in their shoes. Is the person just in a bad mood and then transferred the aggression on you? Is the person jealous of your new job position? Yet again, this leads to the next question: How is the person’s life currently; happy or unhappy? Is the person having family or financial problems or probably a bad marriage?
These questions would help you to understand the person and why they are mean to you. After this, the next step is to avoid retaliation.
2. Avoid Retaliation
We have no authority nor control over the behaviour of another adult human being. So they decide the way they live their lives, and all the control we have is limited to ours. It may be really hard to let go and not retaliate. We may feel that they deserve to be cushioned, but that’s only going to make matters worse.
Remember that they may be going through a lot in life, and they may already feel depressed and filled with rage. Responding to their tantrums might degenerate to a fight. Now that wouldn’t be mature. However, it could also be that all the other party wants is to get you depressed and all worked up about it. You wouldn’t want to give them the pleasure of feeling that they have succeeded. Would you?
3. Eliminate The Manner, Pick The Message
It is sure difficult to take someone seriously when they disrespect you or yell at you. For instance, if your boss says that you are not serious with anything in life, he or she may actually be referring to just a singular incident that occurred at work. He or she have definitely crossed the line, and that statement is totally uncalled for, hurtful, off base and completely mean.
However, take a minute to evaluate yourself. Am I taking my job seriously? Do I often come late to the office? Do I always procrastinate on performing task required of me? Do I need to step up a little? These may be helpful questions to discern the truth in the message and ignore the manner in which it was presented. If you feel that you need to correct your boss on how you should be addressed, doing so immediately won’t be ideal. It is best to wait for some other time when he is more relaxed and you are less upset.
4. They Are Just Words
Yes! They hurt. But It is important to remember that they are just words, not bullets, not rocks, not atomic bombs nor swords. They can’t make you less of a person. They can’t reduce your bank balance or take off the roof of your house, so don’t let it get to you. It’s just a combination of harsh words orchestrated to make you feel bad. Don’t let it.
5. Remain Confident
Being confident involves accepting the things you can’t change about yourself and not living the rest of your life feeling awful about it. If you are unhappy about who you are, you make it easier for people to take advantage of your weaknesses. Remember that there is no flawless person in the world. Therefore, appreciate what you have and hang out with people that make you feel good about yourself.
6. Remind Yourself Of Reality
What do I mean? Well, we may try to mind our own business. Treat people fairly as well as with respect and we expect to be treated likewise. But sad to say, the reality is that the world doesn’t work that way. Consequently, there is no absolute fairness in the world. What you see as fairness may not be seen as such by someone else. There are different views about what is right and wrong as well as what is appropriate and inappropriate.
What you term as “fairness” may be common among people you know but that doesn’t mean it is always going to be “true”— yours may just be more popular. While you are busy spending your precious time thinking about how someone treated you unfairly, the other party on the other hand may be having a good time, unaware of what you are going through. So do not waste your precious time thinking about who is wrong and who is right. Just move on.
Find what makes you happy, do what makes you happy and stay happy.