I’m not a fan of criticism. I’m just being real with you. I know you’ve heard me say and you’ve seen me write that we must embrace critique because that’s what makes us stronger and better. It’s the truth. It does. But embracing something does not mean you have to like it much less love it.
When I was growing up criticism either meant:
- I did something wrong.
- Someone was not happy with me.
- I was getting in trouble for something.
As a result, for many years I interpreted criticism as a negative thing. In fact, despite all of my knowledge that critiques can be our friend, when I get criticized today, my immediate reactive feeling (notice I said feeling and not action) is to come up with my defense, get upset, and get ready to fight. IT’S TRUE! I rarely do any of those things though because I’ve learned to manage my feelings.
It is so easy to blame our caregivers, coaches, family members who were the harshest critics in our lives, but I do not blame anyone for the criticism I received. because when I was growing up, I believe that my parents thought critique was the best way to motivate me to do better. Although this can be true, delivery is important – vitally important. Often when I was a kid, criticism was not delivered in a friendly sandwich method – say something good, then give the critique and then end with something good. I grew up in a traditional Caribbean household – my daddy wasn’t sandwiching anything! He just told it as he saw it. Period. It felt harsh – I ain’t going to lie. But like I said, he was trying to make me better. His intentions were pure.
Feelings are feelings. They are not to be judged. Feelings inform you of something. Once you get the information, it is up to you to decide what you are going to do with it and how you are going to react. The issue has been that many of us have been conditioned to see criticism as something negative and therefore some of you (myself included) have ruminated on the critique for hours, days, and for some people weeks. One of the most common complaints/concerns that my clients have is that when someone says something bad about them or criticizes their work, they can’t stop thinking about it. Their brain won’t shut off. Part of the reason for this is because we are looking to fix or defend ourselves without taking a moment to think logically. Therefore, may I suggest a different approach? Perhaps ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there any validity to what is being said? Well, is there? Take a moment and think. I know everyone seems to have an opinion about everything. But sometimes, those critiques have some validity. Maybe you didn’t give the best presentation – you were off your game; maybe you could have been more patient with a customer; or maybe you could have spent less time watching TV and more time perfecting your craft. Maybe right? Be honest with yourself. If there is validity to what is being said to you, take it, say thank you and keep it moving. Simply do better next time.
- Who is the source? Is the person criticizing you a person who wants to see you grow or someone who is what Taylor Swift would call “a hater”? I hate to say it, but there are a lot of people out there that are like crabs in a bucket. If you are ahead of them, they are going to pull you down by putting you down so that they can get ahead of you. Be mindful of the crabs. However, at the same time, be mindful of the people who want to see you succeed. Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed. Not only will they critique you, they will support you and help you get to where you want/need to go.
- Keep an open mind. You’re not perfect. Don’t get mad at me for pointing out an obvious truth. NONE of us are perfect. The best way to get better, is to feel a lil’ bit of pressure and to be forced to question yourself. Not many people want to do this or recommend it. However, we get better when we make mistakes because we focus on correcting them. What we focus on we grow. If our focus is to get better, then that is exactly what we will do. You can’t get better if you’re constantly told how absolutely wonderful you are. Truth.
In order to do the above three things, you’ve got to get real with yourself. I can admit, I do not love to get criticism, but I damn sure appreciate when I do because when I get criticized, I ask myself those three questions. I be honest with myself then I take a breath and I consciously decide how I will act moving forward. If an apology must be made, then I do that. If an explanation has to be given, then I will do that but what I try hard not to do is to defend myself, not to beat myself up, and ensure to access my positive self-talk to say “I can only get better moving forward”.
Try it – you may find your life to get a lot calmer and a lot less anxiety filled when you do.
You totally got this. Slay Your Day.
If you would like more information on how to work with Jen Slay or you want to learn more about how to be happy to your core book a 15min telephone session with Jen. She would love to talk to you. Go to https://calendly.com/jenslay/15-min-slay-session. You got this!
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Jennifer Slay is an award winning speaker and best selling author. She is a motivational speaker, registered social worker, therapist, workshop facilitator and online teacher. For more information or to book Jennifer to speak at your event, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-786-7190.