How to Use Criticism to Your Advantage
Criticism is bad, and no one wants to be criticized. Regardless of the reasons or the validity of the criticism, it feels like a blow to our basic desire to be liked, loved, accepted and appreciated. And because not accepting the criticism in hard wired in our brains, our ability to maintain perspective and gain from criticism is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to us.
Nurturing the ability to use the criticism to our advantage is something everyone should learn, as it can keep you away from frustration, anger, feeling of revenge etc. Having outside perspective on a situation protects us from getting depressed, angry and stupid grit.
Individuals can sometimes pursue a path that is not bringing out the best in them, often for reasons that may lie below conscious awareness such as a desire to prove oneself. In such situations, it’s the candid opinion of other people who care for you can be really helpful.
Below are few simple things to remember so you gain from criticism and use it to grow towards your high potential.
- Know the Source: We are not born to please everyone, and hence people might criticize you for a lot of reasons. It’s important to sift through criticisms and decide which ones are worth paying attention to and which one should you ignore completely. The easy way to do it is ask yourself few questions like, is this person qualified to judge me?, does he know me well?, Do I need to go along with this person, and if your answer is yes, then the criticism is likely worth listening to.
- Balance Your Perspective: When you receive criticism, try not to reach immediately because your gut response will be charged with emotion. You may feel hurt or angry, and chances are you’re in the fight, flight, or freeze part of your brain. If you respond from this place, you’re more likely to react in a less than productive way – like sending a nasty email or text back.
- Decide to Win or Learn: This can be a little harder thing to do, especially for those who depend on another people’s feedback to feel good about themselves. Women especially seek a little too much approval. Always remember that no one is expected to be great at everything under the sun. What all you have to do is use the criticism constructively and develop the growth mindset. Try focusing on the learning instead of the outcome, and to use it to gain from the experience rather than get stuck because of it. That’s how you progress and make yourself happy.
- Don’t Take It Personally: Do not get overly sensitive about the feedback you receive and ruminate endlessly about it, better you pick up a pen and write down the key takeaways as factual bullet points. This helps in keeping the good things out of it, and casting away the things which are not required. Just simply think about it with a cooler and calmer mind and try figuring out if it is all about the fear, concerns or frustrations of the person delivering it, then work on ignoring such advice and such people by building mental boundaries.
The better you become at managing the criticism, the stronger you will be at managing the critical voice in your inner self. Believe it or not, but we all have it, and those who succeed in life are those who have learned to heed it when needed, and let ignore or use it in a constructive way when required.
Also published on Medium.