Being criticized is rarely ever a pleasant experience, especially when it comes from someone you care about. It can result in all sorts of reactions depending on the individual and the circumstances, but some are more appropriate than others.
What we can say, with some confidence, is that there are many ways to respond that ought to be avoided at all costs. They have no value other than to make the situation worse, but they are all too common in real life.
What this article will attempt to do is reveal seven such responses that serve no purpose whatsoever, so that you may identify them when they are about to happen and stop them in their tracks.
1. Responding With Anger
You’ve just suffered a body blow after receiving criticism from a person whose opinion matters to you. You feel your skin heat up as blood flushes through your system while resentment and anger rise up from within, culminating in an outburst of irritation and even rage.
This outpouring of anger may or may not be directed at your critic, but the result is still likely to be detrimental to you. If you demonstrate anger back towards your critic, you will only serve to antagonize them, potentially leading to further escalation. It will damage your relationship and make being in each other’s company difficult.
If you manage to hold your anger in until you have distanced yourself from the person who criticized you, it still doesn’t mean you are free from the consequences. You may make rash decisions that you later regret, you may cause hurt towards others (what psychologists call displacement), and you may act in such a way as to get yourself into trouble.
No, anger is not the way to respond to criticism.
2. Carrying Out Retribution
You have been hurt and all you can think about is the injustice you’ve just been on the end of. You didn’t deserve it and now it’s time to make them pay.
So you plot and scheme to get your own back on your critic by causing them hurt in return.
But what does this really achieve? You may well be able to inflict pain on them, but will this change anything? Will you feel better because of it?
The answer is almost certainly no. Retribution is a defensive reaction that rarely ever holds much value as a response; on the contrary, it will be more likely to lead to further emotional trauma for you in the future.
No, retribution is not the way to respond to criticism.
3. Blaming Others
Someone is holding you to account, but you insist it has nothing to do with you. Instead, you shift the blame to someone else – anyone else. You make excuses for why you do not deserve to be criticized and deflect any responsibility away from yourself.
After all, nobody can be rightfully critical of you when the blame lay elsewhere, right? Well, you may think so, but this is only a realistic outcome if you actually have been falsely accused. And even if this is the case, blaming others is not the correct response. Instead, you simply need to explain why the fault does not lie with you without pointing the finger elsewhere.
But, more likely, you will have some level of responsibility and so the criticism will be accurate, even if not always necessary. Trying to wriggle your way out by putting others in the frame gets you nowhere.
No, blaming others is not the way to respond to criticism.
4. Denying It
Some words have been spoken and to you they seemed overly harsh. You didn’t deserve to be criticized like that because you haven’t done anything wrong.
Or at least, that’s what your mind is telling you. Denying that you might have done wrong is certainly one way to avoid any great heartache, but could it also be a missed opportunity?
Very occasionally criticism has no foundation in reality, but these times are very rare indeed. Instead, there is usually some element of truth in what is said, even if it gets overstated.
If you deny this truth, then you prevent any chance to learn from what has happened. Clearly you have riled somebody up, and if all you do is disagree with their arguments, you cannot adjust your behavior and prevent it from happening again.
No, denial is not the way to respond to criticism.
5. Hiding From It
You may fully accept the points that have been raised against you, but this does not necessarily mean you are dealing with them internally.
You may, instead, simply choose to bury your head in the sand and hide from the consequences. By neglecting to resolve the issue at hand, you are suppressing your emotions and distancing yourself from your responsibility.
You can ignore the judgement laid out before you, but doing so only serves to lose an opportunity to grow and change. You may be afraid of change, but it is the only way to escape a repeat performance at a later date.
No, hiding is not the way to respond to criticism.
6. Dwelling On It
So you’ve had some harsh words directed at you and you’re feeling pretty low. You have two options: you can either dwell on it and continue in your hurt state, or you can listen to your feelings, learn what they mean and the take proactive steps to better yourself.
As has been said already, criticism usually has some hint of truth in it and it enables you to see the qualities that may not be desirable in the eyes of those around you or society in general. Sometimes these aspects of your personality might be otherwise hidden from you, and while they are never nice to hear, by going over the event again and again, you actually block the road to progress.
No, dwelling on it is not the way to respond to criticism.
We will all face criticism during our lifetimes and how we react to it can influence our direction of travel. The six responses discussed here do not serve your higher self and should be avoided wherever possible. Instead, you should always seek to turn criticism into a positive thing by assessing where it came from and how you can incorporate it into your journey of self improvement.
Do you agree with the points raise here? Leave a comment below and share your views with us.