4 Ways To Deal With Criticism That’s Hard To Hear

The more successful you become, the more open you are to criticism because success usually comes from being more visible. But criticism doesn’t have to be something to be afraid of, because when handled effectively, it can actually be a killer tool to drive you further. So here are some tips on how to deal with criticism to make it your fuel for success.

Take it as a sign people are listening

Whilst criticism may have negative undertones, it’s definitely a sign that you’re doing something different, that you’re standing out and that you’ve said something that stirs emotion inside others. Whether they agree with you or not, receiving criticism shows you that you’re actually doing something worthy of  commenting on; that people are actually talking or thinking about you. Anyone who doesn’t get criticised is probably not doing anything interesting enough to be worth talking about and that’s no recipe for success.

Learn to distinguish criticism from feedback

Whereas criticism tends to be negative and personal, feedback is objective information which can be both positive and negative. Negative feedback can be confused with criticism because both deal with things to be improved and are often hard to hear. The difference is usually the intention of the person giving it to you. Listen to what’s being said – are they trying to help you? If it’s a yes then this is probably negative feedback just not delivered in the best way. Feedback, both positive and negative, is information used as a basis for improvement and without it, you cannot move forward. So forgive the messenger for the way they’ve said it (remember, giving feedback is sometimes harder than receiving it) and listen up with an open mind.

Don’t react, respond instead

It isn’t always easy not to take it personally, after all criticism is personal. Yet, whilst criticism might get you a little heated, firing off in return is likely to make it worse. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand where they are coming from and why they may have said it.

Explore it further if you need to; get curious and ask questions to understand more. Exploring criticism from a place of curiosity, and not defensiveness, will be much more effective because the curious part of you tends to be much softer and more open than the defensive part of you. If you need to, take some time before you come back to discuss it because the more distance you can get from it, the more likely you are to respond in controlled and productive manner.

Be selective about what you take on board

Whether it’s criticism or negative feedback, just because someone has said it, it doesn’t mean you have to take it on board. Whilst it may be true for them, that’s their perception and way they see the world from where they are standing. Listen to what is being said, understand their intention and then decide if it’s valuable information for you or not. Take only what is valuable and let go of the rest, even if this takes some time.

Remember that criticism doesn’t always come from others but also from within yourself so if you often find yourself battling with your inner critic then apply these rules as well. Don’t forget to check out our latest article where CGD Editor Beth tells us how she got flawless skin in under a week!

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Written by Hayley Wintermantle.