Some Coping Strategies for various Types of Criticism

Criticism can be constructive. Criticism can be destructive. Some people criticize in order to manipulate or control others. Others criticize in order to hurt, discourage or harm. Other critics cannot or will not edit the content of their negative and malignant minds before they speak.  

Effective criticism helps to improve performance. Constructive criticism teaches a person exactly how to improve. Destructive criticism causes disputes, hurt and harm. The first step to coping with criticism is to determine the type of criticism that is given. 

If the criticism points out a flaw in work quality, it must be always be carefully reviewed. When the criticism is specific and comes with clear directions for correcting a problem, then that criticism will lead to improvement. There is every reason to listen to such criticism and and to learn from it.

However, If the critic is never satisfied yet keeps coming back with vague and nebulous complaints, demand specific answers and specific solutions or disengage from the person. There is no reason for indulging a negative person’s need for attention. There is no need to tolerate a habitual critic’s behavioral problems.

Constructive criticism: If a supervisor is being specific and truthful when they criticize, go ahead and improve in the specified areas. Otherwise, expect poor performance evaluations or termination. The next supervisor may have other ways of doing things. Go ahead and change to ways that satisfy the next person. The lesson is that work methods and habits may need to change depending on the supervisor or teacher’s preferences.

Destructive criticism: If a supervisor or teacher offers vague criticism and will not give specific ways to improve, then it may be time to put a more competent person in charge of one’s job, education or career. At work or school, excel and improve on your own and make your excellence visible to the supervisor’s peers and superiors. Others in leadership will get a last chance to offer a better situation before you move on.

Impossible criticism: Some criticism should be carefully evaluated to determine if it applies to reality. For example, a clothing industry insider who suggests style improvements helps by criticizing the technical aspects of a person’s style choices. However, his or her critiques are useless if the recommended styles are too expensive. To cope with this kind of criticism, make the clothing expert find more affordable or accessible alternatives.

Unintended criticism: A person may simply express a dislike without knowing that others will be hurt or offended. A private notice that people may be offended might discourage the critic who fails to edit before they speak their mind.  

Controlling criticism: Some criticism is clearly intended to make a person feel inferior,or to manipulate them into believing that they “need” to be told what to do. This is the first sign of controlling behavior and it is a well-known precursor to abusive behavior. Whether in a friendship, work relationship, or romantic relationship, an individual needs set limits and enforce them. Otherwise, it is time to determine whether the relationship should develop any further.

Criticism by nature: Some people simply walk through their own world, expecting others to either join them or to become the enemy. Such people have been repeatedly told that they are unthinkingly critical, yet they refuse to stop. One coping strategy is to understand that the criticism is behavioral and is meaningless. The behavior is solely for the gratification or pleasure that the critic gets from behaving as they do. It is nothing personal, but it is a sign that the person is treating others as objects, not human beings. The alternative is to decide whether the automatically critical person is an acceptable annoyance or an unacceptable risk.

Tactless or rude criticism: Such people are great at what they do and know. However they have become so full of themselves that they feel entitled to criticize without compassion, manners or respect for others. Many are in positions of power and must be tolerated. Others are mentally ill and should get some compassion because they cannot help themselves. However it happens, tactless, rude criticism is abuse of power and abusers are never great human beings. It helps to find someone who can supervise, teach or relate to others without being obnoxious and tactless.

At the most fundamental level, criticism is the hard reality that we are not as good as we think we are. Criticism reminds us that our work is not perfect and we can always improve. Criticism is also a weapon that dysfunctional people use to control, manipulate or use others. Learn to evaluate criticism for its true nature, its value or its harm. This is the best way to take the good and reject the evil of any criticism.