No one likes to be criticized. It’s not fun to be told what you did wrong. But criticism is exactly what we need to hear to get better.
If you were taking a college writing course and got glowing remarks every time you turned in a paper, those remarks might make you feel good at first. But if the remarks became a consistent trend, they would begin to ring hollow. As a result of the consistently positive feedback, you would eventually realize that you weren’t getting any feedback that would help you improve. You would sense that you needed some constructive criticism to help you get better.
While not all criticism is constructive, it can be received in that way. But that requires that you look at criticism in the right way. Here are three steps to deal with criticism and make it work for you.
The hardest part of benefiting from criticism is listening to it. And I don’t mean just hearing the words: It’s easy enough to hear the words being said and still tune the person out. I’m talking about genuinely listening to what they are saying to you.
That involves being fully engaged in the moment. When most people get criticized, they want to check out mentally. Resist the urge to do that. Instead embrace the criticism as a gift.
Please don’t hear what I’m not saying: I’m not saying that you should show them your heart so they can shoot arrows at it. Don’t make yourself unnecessarily vulnerable to what they said. But do make sure that you do hear them out.
Even if the person was harsh in their criticism, they still took the time to share with you their thoughts. What they said might have seemed hateful; nonetheless it was better than indifference. Remember: it would have been easier for them to ignore you than to say something critical to you.
Listen to criticism. Even thank them for it. And then move to the next step.
When someone gives you criticism, don’t believe everything they said. It’s important to evaluate it.
When I say evaluate the criticism, I don’t mean to let it play on continuous loop in your head. You should consider what was said, but you should not let it get to you. Just because they said it doesn’t make it true.
Consider the criticism and learn from it. Perhaps you can adjust how you do something as a result of what they said. See how you can become better from what they said. And use it as fuel to launch to the next level.
3. Keep going
Many people can get stopped in their tracks because of criticism. They can’t seem to pick themselves up again because of what someone else said about them. But you can’t let that happen to you. You have to keep going.
Remember who you are. You are not who your detractors—or your admirers—say you are. You are who God says you are.
Do not let what people say to you change how you perceive yourself—for good or for bad. Take the criticism in stride and move forward. Learn what you can from it, but don’t stay there.
Criticism can be a gift if you look at it the right way. It can help you become the person you want to become. But only if you learn from it—and not let it define you.
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