What does it mean to cope with criticism? To me, coping is not about dismissing criticism as dismissal is refusal to study the value of the criticism. Dismiss if and only if the source is unreliable or in fact is in misery and wants company.
Coping is also not about the anger of lashing out or taking in experiencing the masochistic practice of self flagellation. Here are four ideas connected with coping with criticism:
1) Consider the Source- If the source of your criticism is a person you can trust, this criticism can be a great opportunity for personal growth. Let’s learn a lesson here from the Japanese: In Japan, people in work love to be criticized. Doesn’t this attitude appear odd from the Western perspective? This is because our culture craves recognition and id addicted to the ego. Criticism is frequently perceived as a personal attack. Here’s the Japanese alternative: bosses criticize in Japan because these employees have a great more potential than they are not demonstrating. In Japan, bosses don’t criticize people without the potential.
2) Awareness- People with their heads in the sand do not know that they do not know. They go through life living with illusion. For any of us to grow, we do not take action in vacuum as this generally translates to the ignorance of blind ambition. Here, criticism allows us to be aware of our deficiencies. The next step is the psychological aspect of acceptance and again a challenge of leaving the ego home.
3) Avoid Comparison- As a culture of competition, we frequently fall in the trap of comparing self to others. Again, it is an ego thing. If we think we are better than the criticism, we resist the criticism inviting our anger and in the process creating alienation and separation. This is again a matter of awareness and acceptance.
4) Think development and act with humility- If unable to cope with criticism, we are not expanding our comfort zone required to grow personally and professionally. This is the psychological strategy of coping with criticism. Act with humility is first not confusing humility with humiliation. Accepting what we need to do is the humility to know there is always room to grow and develop.
A common quality of successful people is to be able to make improvements from criticism. Successful people are comfortable being uncomfortable and criticism is uncomfortable but how we cope helps determine our destiny!