The Shortened Get-On-With-Your-Life Version
?Avoid hasty knee jerk replies to it
?Let it marinate a while before responding
?Brainstorm how the legitimate criticism can be turned into positive changes and actions?
?Thank the messenger (unless a chronic criticizing naysayer and then just let it go and move on with your day)
The Longer Version
When it comes to criticism, I try super hard not to respond too quickly. Now, of course, I don't always succeed with my good intentions, but I try.
For most folks, criticism stings even when offered to us in a genuinely constructive manner. It kind of hurts a bit more when we know we earned it. When it's unwarranted, however, the sting can explode into anger or at least hit many nerves.
So, while I certainly don't have a magic answer to safeguarding ourselves against the uncomfortable sting of criticism, I do have an informal action plan ready for when it comes my way. Of course, my action plan for handling criticism is only as successful as I am at withholding a knee jerk reaction to it all, right?!
Action Plan for Handling Fair Criticism Productively
- Before any reply, I take a few sloooow, deep breaths to gather my thoughts.
- Then, I calmly explain to the messenger: "Thank you for your thoughts and suggestions. Let's continue this discussion later today (or whenever - just fairly soon). How about around x o'clock on [day]...."
- With this gift of contemplation time, I can now focus on their words in more depth, prevent and get control of all my possible kneejerk defenses and I have time to decide if there's truth in it. If so, is it totally or only partially valid?
- Assuming it's valid criticism (vs. untrue or spiteful) that's been thrown at me, then I ask myself, "How can I turn the criticism into a positive?"
And---How I "Try" to Handle Unfair Criticism
1. See #1 above
2. See #2 above
3. Next, I gather specific examples that show why their criticism is incorrect
4. Then, I re-connect with the bearer of the "good" news to share these
examples with them.
Caveat! If they are chronically critical naysayers who just like to needle folks without any basis whatsoever, then there's probably no need to re-connect. I just let it go for what it is and move on. I also ask myself,
"Is their negativity worth intruding on my day any further?"
5. For the well meaning folks whose criticism of me was unwarranted or incorrect, I first thank them for their willingness to let me know how they felt. I then explain why I feel their criticism was unwarranted and ask if they understand my explanation or have any questions. After discussing calmly and without beating it to death, we can now move on to more enjoyable topics. Yahoooo! ??