Coping with Criticism

When the movie “Titanic” was first released in the theater, it got the worst reviews of the year. Film critics said it was too long, too boring, not well made, just about every bad thing you can imagine. It was the highest grossing movie of that year and went on to win several Oscars including best picture.

When someone criticizes us it only means one of two things- they are either right or wrong. If they are right then we need to listen to them and follow their advice in order to better ourselves. If they are wrong then it doesn’t matter, wrong is wrong.

The question is how do we know when they are right or wrong?

The way to determine if the criticism is right or wrong is never take one person’s criticism seriously, but take two or three of the same opinions more seriously. One person can be wrong, two people may be wrong, but if you hear the same criticism from three different people, you may want to pay attention.

However, even in a situation where four people have the same criticism it doesn’t necessarily mean they are right. Remember, the film “Titanic” was criticized harshly by several film critics.

Be that as it may, the best way to cope with criticism, even when we don’t agree with it, is to respond with indifference, saying something like, “I’ll keep that in mind,” or “You may be right,” and leave it at that.

When several people are telling you that you act badly in public after you’ve had a few drinks then I think you should listen. One person criticizing you could just be jealousy or hidden resentment. It may even be bitterness and resentment hidden so deep that the person who is criticizing you may not even really know they feel that way.

Criticism should be viewed like a jury returning from deliberating in a criminal trial. When a criminal is accused of a crime, we don’t put it in the hands of three jurors or even six. We put it in the hands of twelve.

However, there is a right and wrong way to criticize. Constructive criticism is given by someone who is honestly pointing out what they believe to be errors in an attempt to help us correct them. Destructive criticism is a blatant put-down with every intention of making us look bad. The key is to recognize the difference.

Jesus Christ demonstrated proper constructive criticism in his messages to the seven churches in Revelations. Each time the Savior got ready to tell them what they were doing wrong, He would first tell them what they were doing right.

Therefore, when someone offers compliments first, and then goes on to point out the errors, likely as not, they are offering constructive criticism with good intentions.