Combating criticism

Combating criticism

Don't wear yellow, it makes you look pale. Why do you tie your hair, leave them loose? Your punctuation is all wrong. Why do you stoop, stand straight? You should've put in more effort for the report. You need to improve your English. Children know more about technology than you. You don't even know online banking Do these words sound familiar? If yes, then you are not alone. It is common to face criticism from friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances and even strangers about one's behaviour, looks, mannerism, work and everything else.
Every time we fail to meet someone's expectations, we are criticised. A small negative remark is enough to make us gloomy. We feel the entire world is ganging up against us. Like it or not, you are being judged all the time in personal and professional life. When at the receiving end of such comments, we go into our shells or vent out our anger on our tormentor or whoever is ready to take the wrath of our blows. The modus operandi might differ from person to person, but for most of us, any kind of criticism sucks.
The extent of agony that the negative remarks cause depends on how they are meted out. A lethal blow mouthed in private may not be as damaging as a single negative comment made in full public glare. Wish we had control over others' behaviour! Alas we don't! Irrespective of our position and social status, there is no escape from criticism. Interestingly, we have no control over the manner in which the negativity is lashed out at us, but we have complete control over how we deal with it.

Stay calm

Irrespective of who criticises and how criticism is meted out, respond to it calmly. Be respectful towards the person. Anger begets anger. Getting agitated over it will only aggravate the situation. "When someone criticises me, I keep quiet instead of making excuses or giving explanation. As I am in a customer-centric industry, I am trained not to argue with the customer, but I practice this even in my personal life and it works wonders," tells Jayanthi, front office executive at a resort. "When the person cools down, he or she is in a better position to understand my point of view and reasoning."
All criticism is not bad. Whether professional or personal, listening well to a negative feedback is a smart way to deal with it. Don't just discard it as something unhealthy, it might be a genuine feedback or useful tips to scale up professionally. To be successful, it is important to receive feedback. Isn't it? Brutal comments might sound harsh, but if you look carefully, only well-wishers tend to give honest feedback. Act on it. Take it as an opportunity to better yourself and thank the person for his or her valuable views.
"Until a few years ago, whenever I had to do some online shopping, I would request my husband to do it. Every time I asked him for his help, I had to hear a whole lecture about how bad I was at technology that I couldn't do a simple task of online transaction. There were arguments, sometimes nasty ones. When I gave it thought, I realised that I didn't know even simple things like attaching a file because I have never tried to learn. Living in the digital world, I have no choice but to catch up with technology. Obviously, I am not as good as my son and husband, but I have started trying my hand at online banking, booking the movie tickets and a few other things. I wouldn't have learnt it if my husband hadn't criticised me for it. So sometimes criticism is good," beams Nithya, a housewife.

Outcome of jealousy

It is true that as one climbs the ladder of success one makes more enemies than friends, and such enemies don't lose a single opportunity to pull you down. There is no harm in giving it back to such people, but let your deeds rather than your tongue do the talking.
When someone gives you a negative feedback, don't assume he or she has a personal agenda against you. Of course the world is full of people who will find fault in others just to bring them down, but it needn't always be so. Sense the difference between genuine feedback and unhealthy criticism and act accordingly. Ignore the unwarranted feedback.
Come to think of it, why take everyone's opinion so seriously that it spoils your peace of mind. There are people who take pleasure in taunting and lashing ungraceful comments at others. They do so more out of their own insecurities and complexes, than any evil intention. Laughing it off or not reacting to it, is likely to silence them. Getting into an argument or being defensive will only make you feel worse. And even if the criticism is genuine, you don't owe an explanation to everyone.

Positive outlook

You needn't react and respond to every critic. There is another category of people who are in the habit of finding fault with everyone and everything without meaning anything. They do it more out of compulsive habit than anything else. They are mad at the entire world - be it the weather, food, roads or people's behaviour. Such people don't deserve a thought.
The intensity of hurt that any adverse comment causes chiefly depends on our own state of mind and level of confidence. A positive attitude and high emotional quotient drive people to stay unaffected by any negativity in their lives. Don't give the rein of your mental peace in someone's hand. It would be foolish to let a negative word ruin your happiness and your day.
Whoever said that all criticism is unhealthy and bad is living in a fairy tale world, where all is well with everyone. Imagine a scenario where there is only praise and no brickbats, no one to point out your flaws, whether real or imaginary. How boring and stagnant that world will be!
Use criticism to your advantage. Sieve the wheat from the chaff. Listen to whatever helps you to improve and ignore the rest. Period. Let's not pay any heed to people who want to find fault in you for their own sadistic pleasure. Instead, let's listen to Aristotle who said, "To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing."

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