Posted by: Edward | March 10, 2016

Learn to let Criticism Nourish You

No one who does anything can escape criticism, so the first thing to do is to think of it as the social equivalent of rainy weather. It’s inevitable it will happen, and not necessarily when you are prepared for it. And while rain may be be unwelcome at your picnic, there are people praying for rain to help their plants grow.

Sometimes the criticism we receive is unfair. Maybe the other person has misperceived the situation or is judging you by an unreasonable standard. You can decide whether it is worth attempting to correct their perceptions or standards of judgement, or whether to simply tolerate and forget their errors.

Often, however, there is some truth in the criticism we receive, even if it is small or distorted by emotion. Like a gold panner we must sift through some dirt, if we want to find any gold. It is well worth digging through the feedback we receive, no matter how unpleasant that can be at times, if we can find a way to improve ourselves.

The first step is to practice actually hearing the critical statements. Try not to react, defend, or fight back. This can be very difficult, but it is a skill that will pay dividends for the rest of your life. Listen and collect what they are giving you for it is a gift, even if neither you nor they realize it is. If you find it too difficult to hear without getting upset, write down what they told you and look at it again when you are calmer.

Ignore, for now, the parts you feel are unfair, untrue, and unreasonable. Look for bits that feel more like they hit a bit. Dust these off and look at them. You might have to translate these out of statements about you and into descriptions of your behaviour. You might need to translate them from always or never statements into often or sometimes or rarely statements. Take the pieces that are a little true and make them more true.

Now, once you have done this, is this statement something you could work on? Would changing this behaviour improve your performance or your ethics? If it would, and you can use this nugget to improve yourself, then it was worth digging through a little muck to get it, wasn’t it?

This is a process that is very difficult to start but that gets easier and more powerful the more you use it. Criticism can change from something that rains on your parade into something that waters your best qualities.


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