How To Make Criticism Your Friend and Blow Up Your Success
Beware of the messenger of criticism. Often its disguised jealousy
Has this ever happened to you?
You’ve done the best you could to complete a job as close to perfection as possible. You’ve gone out of your way to please someone or a group of people, or you exhausted every fiber of your being to please someone you love but then you are criticized and made to feel that you’re a failure, incompetent, or worse yet, you don’t deserve to be happy?
If any of this has happened to you I know exactly how you feel or felt. I share your pain.
I’ve personally experienced all of the above during the course of my life so I know just what it's like. Been there done that and it stings, hurts, discourages, and leaves scars.
However, from those experiences with criticism, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve learned how to deal with criticism and make it part of the road I traveled to many of the successes in my life.
Here’s what I’ve learned. Perhaps it can help you too. If you haven’t experienced it, then pass this article along to someone you know that has.
What is Criticism?
Criticism is the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes. It most often points out the problems or faults of a person or thing.
Note that part of the definition includes the word “perceived fault.” I think this is a very important point and is the thing that has helped me deal with criticism when it’s delivered in the worst way.
Normally it is coming from what the person delivering it “perceives.” It’s about them and usually not about you although criticism can also be useful and constructive.
What a person perceives is their interpretation. It doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong or deserve the criticism. Just keep that in mind. Don’t let what a person “perceives” about you or what you’ve done define your life.
However, let me hasten to say, always be open to listen and evaluate what they have to say. There may be a gem or two that will help you.
Varieties of Criticism
There are several varieties of criticism too numerous for an article like this but let’s visit 5 of the most common.
1. Negative criticism
Negative criticism is the voicing of an objection to something, only with the purpose of showing that a person is wrong or something is false, mistaken, nonsensical, objectionable, or disreputable.
It only shows the downside of something or someone. It’s never constructive and rarely helpful and often intended to disrupt or destroy.
The best way to deal with this type of criticism is with facts. Facts don’t lie. A thing is either true or it isn’t. If someone attacks you with criticism that you know is not true respond with facts. Ultimately it’s the only way to destroy negative criticism.
Remember it’s coming from the other person’s perception. It’s not about you although it’s designed to get under your skin. It’s really about them.
Of course, if the negativity is true you have some work to do. In that case, responding with the facts is still the best way to go.
Acknowledge that a mistake was made and clearly outline how you will correct the situation and then do it. This helps to restore your credibility and establishes that you have a character that counts.
2. Positive Criticism
Positive criticism draws attention to a good or positive aspect of something that is being ignored, disregarded, or overlooked.
This is the type of criticism that everyone enjoys and is helpful in our growth and self-esteem. When you receive it be thankful and appreciative.
Also, make sure you listen carefully to the positive criticism. Take mental or even written notes. These are the things you want to continue to do and build upon because it not only helps you but it helps others too.
Use positive criticism as building blocks to build a solid foundation for whatever your goals, vision or mission is in life.
As a caution, just keep it in perspective. It should never be allowed to make you pompous, feel entitled, or better than other people. It can also be a form of flattery that while positive, needs to be looked at realistically so you remain confident but never become “bigheaded.”
3. Constructive Criticism
Constructive criticism is intended to be helpful. It points out that what one may have done or is doing there is a better alternative to it. It is designed to be helpful. It may point out a problem but suggests a solution along with pointing out the problem.
This has been the best type of criticism that I’ve experienced in my life and I am thankful to all that have contributed by the giving of it. Hopefully, you are too or you should be.
Here’s the reason why. It’s an opportunity to learn, to become better at what you do, to become a better person, and to enhance your life more. That’s the benefit of constructive criticism.
In addition, constructive criticism opens up the door for you to create a new relationship with the person who provides it, and perhaps that person becomes a valued and important mentor to help you scale up a level. It can also deepen and enrich a relationship that you already have.
4. Moral or Religious Criticism
Moral or religious criticism can be some of the most insidious criticism one has to deal with. It is a delicate situation and often steeped in controversy, judgment, and fraught with discord.
As a practicing Christian and ordained minister of the Gospel of Christ, I’ve had to deal with my share of it. One religion or the mores of another is used in an attempt to convert someone to whatever the criticizer’s moral or religious beliefs are.
Personally, I’ve found this to be a no-win situation. People believe what they want to believe.
My belief is my belief and I am very profound and adamant about it. However, the thing that I’ve learned is to let people believe what they want to believe. That is no reason for me to not accept them for who they are and what they believe.
In fact, it is entirely possible to learn something positive and constructive from any belief system and I’ve learned that often there enough similarities between my moral or religious beliefs that we can reach some common ground for dealing with one another or supporting each other’s group because in reality as human beings we are more alike than unlike.
We could do well with this understanding if we get the criticism out of the way and recognize and work on the commonalities.
I suggest this is the best way to handle any moral or religious criticism.
Of course, if morality or religion is one that clearly is harmful to people in a degrading, physical, or criminal way it should be ignored in its entirety.
Self-criticism is the act of or capacity for criticizing one’s own faults or shortcomings.
This can be the worst kind of criticism that faces a person and can be the most destructive because it’s coming from within.
It’s difficult to hear and receive all of the other criticisms and not turn some of them inward and upon yourself. Yet, you must guard against this one with all your might.
Self-criticism is a beast. In a U.S. News health report article psychologists report:
“Self-critics fear that others might criticize and reject them, and inadvertently evoke these very reactions. They isolate themselves from people and refrain from engaging in pleasurable activities. The end result is emotional disorders, primarily depression and anxiety”
Negative self-talk, a form of self-criticism, is very toxic and must be kept under control.
If self-criticism is not kept under control it can destroy you.
I have been a victim of this one too. I’ve told myself I’m not good enough to win after I’ve failed at something important.
When I’ve done the best I could and people who depended on me did not receive what I thought they deserved I blamed myself for not delivering it.
Here Was My Biggest Challenge With Self-Criticism
As a little Black boy, I was called the N-word so many times and reminded that I was nothing and would be nothing that I started to believe it and wanted to be anything else but Black.
I was told I was stupid and would never amount to anything. I almost believed it.
I was required to literally go to the back door of White people’s homes and not the front door because I am black.
I was denied eating in restaurants, even when wearing the uniform of my country because I am Black.
Thoughts were enshrouded inside my mind based on the color of my skin that would have held me back and destroyed me, but for a mother that would not let me dwell in the self-pity of blackness and the positive and constructive criticism of people who were white and saw the potential in me and of course, the grace of God himself that brought me through.
Ultimately, I learned that one’s greatest power comes from within. I learned not to live to please others and to reject conforming to things that mold me into something I am not and instead adhere to the biblical principle espoused in Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. …”
Your mind can be completely transformed! Here’s how to handle self-criticism.
“Be yourself Everyone Else is Taken” — Oscar Wilde
Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.
Beware of the messengers of criticism. Often it’s disguised as jealousy. Look at the background history and accomplishment of the messenger. If they haven’t done anything, aren’t doing anything and you’re way ahead of them disregard it.
It’s likely just jealousy and paying attention to it and reacting to it will only waste time and suck energy from you that could be used to improve who you are and what you do.
Much criticism falls into this category if you are doing anything that shakes up the system, challenges it to do better, or have introduced a proven way to get results better than what exists.
Criticism is a normal part of life. It’s not going away. Some criticism is beneficial but often it is more damaging than good.
How you deal with criticism is the key. Usually, it comes from the perception of another person. It’s about them and not about you. It’s their perception.
Look for learning from the criticism and use it to blow up your success. Ignore all the rest.
Beware of the most destructive criticism, which is self-criticism.
The only way to avoid criticism is to do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.
Don’t let this be your legacy.