3 Powerful Ways to Handle Criticism

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It’s no fun to receive criticism, but if you’re up to anything worthwhile it’s bound to happen. Aristotle said,  To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”  

Criticism comes with the territory of being creative and with taking leadership or any kind of initiative. Because it’s inevitable, we all need to learn to deal with it.

Here are three straightforward ways to reconcile criticism:

1. Listen for the Rule of Three. Before you dismiss the feedback, take a deep breath and see if you’re wincing because the person is on to something. Few people know how to deliver criticism in a skillful way. Take a deep breath (also known as the Sacred Pause) and see if you can get past the pour timing or bad delivery, then ask yourself, “Have you received similar feedback before?” Everyone has a bad day, but if you’ve been told the same thing (by people you respect) three or more times—we call this “the rule of three”—do yourself a favor and listen.

2. Don’t Give Away Your Power. Useful criticism focuses on actions or outcomes and never challenges someone’s personhood. While it is important to listen to valid feedback, you never need to tolerate unkind or harsh criticism. If that happens, you have to protect your soul by saying to yourself, “You can not take me down. I will not give you that power.” Stand in the knowledge that you have made important contributions to countless people and projects, that you are valued and loved. Even if the criticism has some merit (see #1), you are worthy of love and respect. Delete, fire, avoid, and block those who cross the line. (And if those people happen to be your client, partner or boss, what is it going to take to get you out of there?)

3. Have a Good Laugh.
The best way to soften the blow of criticism is to laugh at yourself and the predicament. Remember the adage you learned in childhood: You can make some people happy some of the time, but not all of the people happy all of the time. Jimmy Kimmel does this great recurring bit where celebrities read the awful, condescending tweets people post to their accounts. (These are things people would think twice about saying in person.) So if you’re ready to laugh right now, take three minutes to watch Jimmy Kimmel Live Video of “Mean Celebrity Tweets.”

Now, I’d love to hear from you and welcome your comments and or questions about this post here on Facebook.

How have you dealt with criticism? What mean comments, emails or tweets have you received that now make you laugh?  What did you learn and how do you know you learned it?

Showing 2 comments
  • Mari Rose

    I loved reading this. And what a great way to start the day, watching the Mean Tweets. (I agree with Sophia. 🙂 ) I only just had a conversation with my youngest son about an incident where he didn’t receive criticism well and lashed out, and I am going to share this with him, as well as looking out for any opportunities to process throughout the day.

    Thanks, Linda.

    • Linda Curtis

      Thanks, Mari! Yep! Laughter is the best medicine. (My favorite celebrity in the Mean Tweets video was Ethan Hawke.) – Linda