Dealing with Criticism (Live)

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Learn how to respond to criticism. We give you strategies to use when you have received constructive feedback or criticism. Dealing with criticism is an important social skill to nurture. We share our communication strategies for how to best respond to critical comments and negative feedback.

In this livestream, we discuss communication strategies for handling criticism. We look at both intrapersonal strategies and interpersonal strategies. The intrapersonal aspect is about how to treat the criticism and what mental shifts and perspectives to take. And the interpersonal aspect is about interacting with the critic and responding in a confidence, poised, and calm manner.

Let's explearn the strategies:

Kernal of Truth

Ask yourself if there is any kernal of truth to what they are saying. Is there any merit to this criticism? Related to that, has anyone expressed similar criticism to you about a similar gripe or is this a one-off critique?

If multiple people have expressed similar concerns or critique, then maybe it's time to face to music and take the criticism to heart - in a constructive way.

ad astra per aspera : through hardship to the stars

Honoring Yourself

In common vernacular, honoring ourselves takes the form of practicing self love and self care.

When anyone receives criticism, we get a little down. But hey, it's no biggie, right? Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of that and say it out loud. That's right, look yourself in the mirror and say some positive and encouraging like "you're awesome", "you got this," "you can handle anything." Personally, I also like revisiting uplifting and motivational quotes if I'm feeling blue. One of my favorites is ad astra per aspera , which translated from Latin, means "through hardships to the stars." 

In a similar vein, making time to practice regular self care also helps keep your spirits uplifted. One of my daily self care practices is working out (I love high intensity training) and getting out in nature. Choose whatever is sacred to your self care practice and be consistent. When you systematize it, you don't even have to think about penciling it in because it's an automatic process. 

Three Things

This is a technique that I learned from one of my favorite actresses, actually. I was listening to a podcast where she was talking about her own journey with personal growth. Some of you may know her from the epic series, Battlestar Galactica, where she plays Kara "Starbuck" Thrace. The actress, Katee Sackhoff, describes her way of getting out of a negative though cycle. She calls it the "three things game." So let's say you're stuck in traffic, or you got some sub-par news, or you received (gasp) some criticism, her technique will come in handy.

Ready for her "three things" technique?

When faced with any negative situation (i.e, stuck in traffic, failed interview, receiving criticism, etc.) think of the three ways it could have been worse. So, in the case of receiving criticism, if we were to play Sackhoff's three things game, we'd conjure up three ways it could be worse. For example, maybe you could have had a splitting migraine, you spilled coffee on the hiring manager's desk, and left your phone in the cab on the way to the interview. So now, only receiving criticism (/[insert other negative situation]) does not seem so bad, after all. 

This is a great way to shift your mindset and gain some much-needed perspective.

When we receive criticism, we tend to do a mental playback of (1) what the critic said, (2) how they delivered it, (3) how we reacted to it, the list goes on...It's a tedious loop of this same clip and it's taxing on our mental state.

So press pause on the mental movie and play the three things game instead.

Elaborate with Evidence

Ask the critic to elaborate on the criticism with evidence and anecdotes. This way you can see if there is any substance to their criticism of if it's just an ad hominem...or fallacious fluff. 

Someone claims your email was sloppy and written in haste? Ask them to point out the exact places in the email that they construed as "sloppy."

When you ask for elaboration, say it in a way where it demonstrates that your intention is to learn from this blip and turn it into a teachable moment.

Don't be defensive or aggressive, speak calmly and as objectively as possible. The point is, you want to understand the feedback as best you can and examples of what's being criticized will be helpful for you to improve on what needs more attention.

Sleep on It

Don't feel pressure to respond right away. Take time to think about it. 24 hours is completely acceptable. Think about the criticism, find the kernel of truth (if any), and take action. When you take action you'll be able to list out steps to take in order to remedy the issue and address the criticism. This creates some distance between you and the criticism, gives you ample time to reflect on it, and most importantly helps you respond rather than react. Once you're cool, calm, and collected, which generally happens after you've slept on it, then your better equipped to respond confidently. 

Listen Deeply

Listen to what they are saying. Listen to how they are saying it? Are they frustrated? Are they concerned? Are they angry. And then you can tailor your retort accordingly. Again, this helps focus your energy on replying in a confident way rather than bristling with rage and (over)reacting.

These are a few ways you can control the way you react to criticism, compose a thoughtful response, and potentially even changing your mind about how you view the criticism in general. Our hope is that you begin to see criticism as an opportunity for growth and for improvement regardless of the intention of the critic in criticizing you in the first place. Also remember, that most criticism does not come from a place of malice, so whenever possible, think of the best of people, and give them the benefit of the doubt. Even if the critic did have malicious intentions, if you can treat it as a teachable moment and an opportunity to grow, then you're well ahead of most people. Moreover, you'll be a happier, calmer, and more successful human being because of it!

Check out our Explearning lesson on Public Criticism and How to Respond to Criticism with Confidence.

See you in the next Livestream!

Happy Explearning ⚡