DISCLAIMER: There is a difference between criticism and bullying! It is important to be able to identify each and know when to seek help/ report bullying. It is also important to know that criticism does not equal bullying. I am not an expert by any means, I am just sharing my thoughts with the internet!
I personally don’t know anyone who likes to be criticised. That is probably because no one really likes being told about their shortcomings. There is nothing fun about having someone tell you how you have messed up and what you can do to improve. When was the last time someone criticised you? How did you react to it (physically and emotionally)? How did it make you feel about the person criticising you? These are important questions to ask yourself, and we will discuss them in this post.
Lets start at the beginning, why do we hate criticism so much? Probably because we are conditioned to not like it, even at that young age we want to protect our egos. Starting in primary school we are taught by our peers that it is bad to be wrong. If you raise your hand and answer the question wrong, the teacher corrects you, and you will usually feel embarrassed, ashamed or anxious. Why? Because your peers judge you based on your answer. However, it’s never a life altering judgement. You’ll still have the same friends come lunch time and everyone will have forgotten by the final bell. But in that moment being wrong seems like the biggest deal in the world.
How do you feel when you are criticised? Usually your brain goes into fight or flight mode, adrenaline pumps and you immediately stop listening to the person. Maybe you get defensive and angry instead. But why do we react like this? This is all thanks to our ego, which is a very fragile thing. At some level we have connected our egos to our self worth. It is common that people with an inflated ego will also have grandiose self worth. We all want to protect our egos and therefore our self worth. It is not uncommon for people to completely cut individuals out of their lives who critique them. When you are criticised you have to step away from your ego (it’s incredibly hard to do) and see the critique for what it is: building blocks to make you better. This is where the idea of constructive criticism comes from. Someone who critiques you is not trying to tear you down (even though your ego tells you that they are), they are trying to give you an outside perspective and help you improve.
If you want to run a blog, business or basically anything it is important to know how to handle critique. Something you don’t want to do is surround yourself with “yes men”. There is nothing worse than having people who will only agree with you. It may seem awesome at the time, but in the long run those people will not help you succeed (before you start freaking out at me, let me explain). The “yes men” in your life are super important and you do need a group of those people, but don’t surround yourself with only “yes men”! There are two kinds of networks every person should have, the support network and the challenge network.
The support network should be made up of the “yes men” in your life. Think of people like your mom, significant other or best friends. People who will always love and support you no matter what happens. Having a support system is super important, you need these people around you. Your challenge network is just as important. This group of people should be made up of people that you trust to tell you the things you need to hear, not just what you want to hear. These are the people that will help you keep your ego in check and help you keep you grounded. Before you start establishing a challenge network you need to be willing to listen.
What are some things you can do to make yourself more open to critique? Below I have laid out a few tips that can help you be more accepting it criticism and help you turn it into a positive learning tool.
- Whenever you get negative feedback from someone (boss, teacher, etc.) be conscious of how you react to the critique and rate yourself on how well you are accepting the criticism. Ask yourself the following questions: How am I taking this? Am I being open or defensive? Am I really listening to what is being said to me? What can I do to fix this?
- Really listen to what people are saying. Try your best to not get defensive right away (this is harder than it sounds). Remind yourself that this critique is coming from a caring and helpful place. The person is trying to help you build yourself up, they are not trying to tear you down.
- Always be thankful for criticism (again, a lot harder than it sounds). It is important to be humble and remind yourself that you are not perfect and there is always room for improvement.
- Learn how to be critical of others in a caring and constructive way. Once you know how to give constructive criticism in a polite and kind way, you will be able to appreciate critique at a deeper level.
- The best way to prove yourself it to show that you are willing to work on yourself! Nothing shows people you are serious about your business, job, schooling, etc. like making it clear that you are willing to do whatever you can to improve yourself.
Keep in mind that I’m not an expert on criticism (I still struggle with being criticised, ask my husband). I thought it would be a good idea to share the tips that I’m using to help myself turn critique into a positive building block. I hope that this was able to help you in some way! What are your tips for dealing with criticism and critique? Let me know in the comments or on any of my social media accounts!