“There’s only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” ~Aristotle
Do you hate being criticized? Do you feel inadequate or complain when someone critiques you or your work? Or what if you’re someone who gives harsh critique? Here are some joyful ways—that’s right, joyful—to accept critique along with more productive ways to give it.
Be thankful for the critique. There is a degree of truth and wisdom in every slice of criticism. Remember that it points out a flaw in your work or character. What is it that you are being critiqued on? Is it character flaw such as laziness or selfishness? Is the critic pointing out something you never even noticed about yourself? We never know the things we need to improve on unless somebody tells us.
Joyfully and quietly accept it. Don’t cut off the other person, complain, or give any excuses for yourself. No one is “too perfect” to be criticized because everyone has a unique preference or system for how they want things done. So, as difficult as it may be, train yourself to not argue with the critique and just respond with a “thank you.” This is where Ms. Humility is a great teacher and will strengthen you to receive hard critique over time.
Ask yourself, “Is this critique helpful or more harmful? Is it petty or nitpicky?” Is the critique something you really need? There are people who critique others with genuine intentions to help, and there are those who critique just to feel superior. Try to assess the difference to know whether to heed it, or not to let it have dominion over you.
Apply it! Criticism is there to help us and make us better individuals, workers, children, parents, and students. Even harsh criticism can be helpful if the critic’s intentions are good. It may be painful now, but at the end of it all, you’d rather something had been said if nothing at all! How can something or someone be improved if nothing negative is said? How can we grow and move forward in a world full of perfection and positivity where everyone withholds the necessary truth? After digesting the critique, apply it to your everyday life when needed and see how you and the atmosphere improve.
NUGGETS FOR THE HARSH CRITIC
Deliver it with love and patience and not with any abuse (cursing or name-calling). Don’t just tell the person they are “no good” or call them “stupid” for their mistakes and shortcomings. Anything you speak to a person, whether good or bad, will manifest in their behavior and actions. If you critique them with a good, honest, and loving approach, you will likely see a more confident and competent individual. But if you constantly show no faith in the other person, they will, depending on personality type, lack confidence in themselves and be slow to improve. So, remember that you are there to help the other person. Before you give any critique, ask yourself if it’s coming from a place of love, protection, and a desire to see them do well in life. This may sound corny to some, but it’s vital!
Show appreciation and point out the good, even while critiquing. This is hard to do, but not impossible. If you only address the negatives and leave out the positives, the person on the receiving end will probably feel inadequate, thinking, “Seriously? I’m doing my best, and I’m still coming up short?” Try to remember to tell the other person how good they’re doing when offering critique. Also, look for the positives and address them along with the criticism. This will show that you have confidence in their abilities.
Be honest, but not cruel. And don’t sugarcoat either! We must lovingly warn those who are wrong. And when we do warn, we must be honest; we must not be reckless, but we must not sugarcoat our words either. Sugarcoating is just as harmful as being “cruel” if not even more dangerous because it partially keeps the truth from others and they don’t get the full version of what they need to hear. So, make sure your critique is constructive and not destructive.