Coping with Criticism

At one point or another, we all come across criticism in one way or a form. We either develop a tough skin or let the criticism get to us. Regardless, we all have our ways of coping with criticism. As there are many positive ways of coping with criticism, there are negative ways of coping with it as well. You want to be able to find positive ways in dealing with the different sorts of criticism. At times, you may have to debate with your critics.

However, coping mechanisms cannot be a one-size fits all method. The world is not one-size fits all. I can compare this to people working out at the gym and the gym trainer gives a mass prescribed regiment. Unfortunately, the mass prescribed regiment does not work for everybody as people are completely different. No two people are exactly the same. When dealing with people, you have to use a different approach. Dealing with criticism is by no means different either. While there are many different types of people, there are many different types of criticism as well. We all have egos. Our egos may be larger or smaller than others. When our egos get hurt, we feel distraught and off balance because of it.

Here are a few scenarios on coping with criticism:

Scenario One:

In this scenario, there is something called “constructive criticism.” This is perhaps the best type of criticism. However, constructive criticism can be deemed as destructive criticism depending on the tone.

Say that you are practicing a martial arts kata and someone observes. The person talks to you and gives you criticism as a result. However, a constructive critic does not say: “You suck.” A constructive critic does not make fun of you at all. Constructive critics give criticism to help you out.

How to cope:

Listen to the person. S/he will point out what you have problems with and what you need to improve on. The person will go as far as to give you tips on improving yourself. In this respect, it is similar to people using criticism to help other people out. In most cases, it is usually subtle and calm.

However, there are exceptions. Some people are simply not receptive to calm constructive criticism and need a hard lesson. Then there are people who come down too hard on people.

One example I can use would be “Kitchen Nightmares” that stars world class chef Gordon Ramsey. In the United States version, Ramsey visited this one French bistro. When he inspected the freezer, Ramsey had to seal off the area and shut down the restaurant for a night because the owners inadvertently contaminated the food. Ramsey harshly criticized the owners for the possible contamination.

If you are on the receiving end, you may have to suck it up and consider it a life lesson. If you are in such a situation, you have to learn from that mistake.

Scenario Two:

In this scenario, you could be under constant criticism from others. Say that someone has criticized your cooking for example. However, the person did not give an explanation on why your cooking is bad. As a result, the person ends up putting you down. Many people do get put down by such criticism. I am by no means an exception as I take pride in my cooking.

How to cope:

There are several ways to cope with this type of criticism. If the person is not willing to give an explanation on why, you tell him/her to stop complaining if s/he does not like the cooking that much. The other way of coping is to tell him/her to cook the next time to see how s/he fares. This can be implemented in just about any and almost every situation.

Scenario Three:

There are people that criticize simply to put you down and/or they are constantly unhappy with their lives. One such term would be “grumpy old men.” These old men are constantly grumpy and they always complain, nitpick, and criticize. I am an uncle that is pretty much like that. For that reason, his wife does not really like being out in public with him. But, there is a way to cope with this type of criticism.

How to cope:

Forget them. Just tune them out. You are not going to make them happy. Just about nothing will make them happy. They will even criticize your attempts to make them happy and so forth. Overall, just focus on your own thing. Do not bother wasting your energy trying to rectify their constant criticisms.

Scenario Four:

This is somewhat similar to scenario three. You are probably going to have a person that constantly criticize you just to make him/herself feel better. These people leave no constructive criticism.

How to cope:

Ignore them. These types of critics are no different and no better to the grumpy people that constantly criticize others because they are constantly unhappy. Knowing these types of critics, you should pay them no attention. You simply need to ignore them and continue doing your own thing.

Scenario Five:

Say that you have some sort of project going on. One example would be that you are writing a story or a screenplay. Perhaps you might have a group of people criticizing and nitpicking certain aspects. You will have people that simply criticize. You will have people that try to give constructive criticism with suggestions that you know will not work.

How to cope:

For the people that simply criticize to criticize, ignore them. If they are not willing to help you out, ignore them. For those that give suggestions and ideas that you know are flawed and will not work, you will have to debate with them. You are going to have to criticize those suggestions. However, do not simply criticize. You have to clearly explain why those ideas are flawed. One could compare this to a political debate.


There are many different types of people and many different types of criticism. You will have to approach different types of criticisms differently. However, you cannot satisfy everybody. There will be people that will remain unhappy and unsatisfied. In respects to those people, ignore them. If they are willing to give constructive criticism, listen to them. If people just simply criticize, ignore them. Keep in mind that a good portion of criticisms stem from opinion. Constructive critics use fact more than opinion. Remember that people are different. Criticisms are a lot like opinions as well. Opinions are a lot like orifices, we all have some sort of orifice.