Whilst some forms of criticism can propel us on to bigger and better things, other forms can leave us feeling deflated and anxious. This is because criticism can come from different places. One of these places is from a need to help another improve or to remedy a situation that warrants doing so.
The other place is somewhere darker and is intended not to help the person being criticized but to purely benefit the person giving the criticism at any expense. We tend to instinctively know which type of criticism we are on the receiving end of, but it doesn’t always help us to take it well.
How well we are able to take criticism can depend largely on how much confidence and self esteem we have. If we feel that we are perfectly acceptable, or above that, then we will be able to receive criticism positively. We will make use of it if we can or disregard it if we flatly disagree with it.
When we are less confident about ourselves criticism can flood our being a little more deeply than it possibly should and eat away at our areas of insecurity. It is on occasions like these that we may respond unfavorably to the criticism and become defensive.
When we respond in this way we are unable to gain any positive results from a genuine criticism and may alienate others who are attempting to help us.
If we find ourselves floundering on the edge of defensiveness after what is possibly a useful criticism then the way to deal with the situation is to hold our response until a later time. This holding can gain us time to think clearly about the situation and to decide how best to respond when we are ready. Telling the person who has made the criticism that we are going to ‘think about it’ lets them know that they have been heard and gains us time.
Whilst thinking about what has been said it can help to assess the motivation of the critic. If we feel that they only have our best interests at heart then it is likely that they are trying to inform us of some helpful information which we can use to our advantage.
If, on the other-hand, even after considerable thought, we find that we cannot accept that the criticism is correct then we need not agree with it and there is no harm in telling our critic so.
The key to dealing successfully with this situation is to thank the critic for their observation at the same time as saying that we disagree. This will stop them from criticizing further and gives us an air of maturity in our dealings and serves to empower us.