I DON’T know about you but I don’t like to be criticized. I am yet to meet anybody who courts the sting of criticism. Most people don’t like criticism. In spite of this, criticism is inevitable. Everybody gets criticized.
THE INEVITABILITY OF CRITICISM
WE get criticized for various reasons. Some of the reasons for which we get criticized are:
- No two people are the same. Our experiences, aspirations, knowledge and beliefs make each of us one of a kind. People who don’t understand our uniqueness will perceive others through their own spectacle, and end up criticizing.
- We also get criticized because we don’t get it right all the time. No human being is right all the time. Once a while, we mess up. When we mess up, those who notice it tend to criticize us for not getting something right.
- There are also times when we get criticized for doing what is right. Doing the right things can make some people uncomfortable. A sure way for such people to ease their discomfort is to criticize those who do right.
- We also have people who criticize for acrimonious reasons. They criticize to undermine the confidence and success of others. Such critics somehow derive their fulfillment from other people’s failures. What they then do is to orchestrate vitriolic attacks to draw back the seemingly progressive ones.
THE RESPONSE TO CRITICISM
WHETHER you do what is right, wrong or do nothing, criticism will come. You cannot stop criticism from coming your way. Nevertheless, you can determine your response to criticism.
First, consider the facts. Don’t be in a hurry to accept or reject any form of criticism that comes your way. When a stone of criticism is hurled at you, your first action is to consider the substance of the criticism. Is it true? Is it fair? Is it really wrong? Just analyse everything before you arrive at a conclusion.
Second, assess the critic. Consider where the criticism is coming from. If it’s from a source you trust to be objective, then you may have to give an ear to that person. A trustworthy person may be someone with deep knowledge about what they criticize you about. If the person offering the criticism is someone whom you believe has your interest at heart, you may have to pay attention to them. You pay attention not merely to yield to them but to understand the basis of their criticism before you decide what to do. On the other hand, criticism from an acrimonious person may be disregarded. Even that, there will be times when you would have to yield if the facts are not in your favour.
Third, subject criticism to your standard. Each one of us has a benchmark that determines the code by which we run our lives. It is upon this benchmark that we determine whether something is right or wrong. Each of us must be conscious of our standards. This will guide us and help us to have consistent lives.
Fourth, don’t take it personal. Most of the time, people criticize you for something you do or don’t do. So when you are criticized, try not to make it an attack of your person. See it as feedback for an action or inaction. By all means, there will be times when people will deliberately attack your person to malign you. You can’t stop that but you must not let it stop you from moving forward.
THE NECESSITY OF CRITICISM
ALTHOUGH criticism is not desirable, we cannot do without it. It is more or less a necessary evil. 26th president of the United States Theodore Roosevelt famously remarked that “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president…is morally treasonable to the American public.” When he said this, he was not inviting criticism. He was affirming the inevitability of criticism and acknowledgement of people’s right to express their opinion.
Another iconic leader, Winston Churchill also said “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” Don’t resent criticism. Don’t be angry when you are criticized. Learn to respond to criticism objectively and it could be your spring board for success to the next level.
© 2014 Terry Mante
CEO, Personal Development Network