How do you feel when someone criticises you?
It’s not easy when a friend or colleague finds a reason to have a pop. We might close down and withdraw, or come out fighting.
Whether you turn away from someone’s comments or come out with your best game face on, it can be draining. It takes a lot of energy to manage these curve balls, especially when our walls come up, and the armour goes on. We feel defensive, hurt, but also a bit vulnerable.
Sometimes critique is justified like when a boss points out a mistake, and we have to own it.
But you probably know yourself, it’s not so much about what someone says or does, but how it makes you feel. When someone implies you’re not good enough, have fallen short or are “less than”, it’s not “feedback” you’re receiving – it’s judgment. And if we take social media as just one example, judgement is what we always seem at risk of navigating right now. Living in 2020 means having to take criticism in our stride.
So what do we do? Here’s something you could try:
This week, set the intention to: Roll With It. In this article, Laura Schwecherl has a few top tips; one of them is to listen to your critic’s intention. Is this person genuinely trying to help your self-development or are they just being plain mean? The author refers to this as constructive or destructive feedback. One way to manage this, is to ask the person what they’re hoping to achieve through the feedback they’re offering. Another way is to step back with compassionate self-reflection and consider if their frustration towards you, is actually a sign that they’re not doing ok. Asking how a person is, can give them the chance to say what’s really on their mind.
It’s also ok to thank someone for their feedback even if you don’t agree with it. Their intentions might be good, even if their wording is a bit clumsy – remember sometimes giving feedback is just as hard as receiving it. It’s always better to have thoughts out in the open than have them bubbling underneath (to potentially explode at a later date). And if you know you’re about to receive some feedback, it’s good to prepare for how you’ll respond (mindfulness can help). Have some statements ready that work for you, for example “I’ve heard what you’ve said and I appreciate your feedback. What do you feel needs to happen next?” Remember, there is no such thing as “brutal” honesty, “tough” love, or being “cruel” to be kind. In order to make you feel better, someone doesn’t need to make you feel bad.
If you or someone you know is receiving verbal abuse at home or at work, this list of useful links may help.
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Copyright Delphi Ellis 2020