As a healthy living community we rarely chat about the skill of taking CRITICISM without falling apart.
We’ve focused on the importance of accepting a compliment gracefully.
I’ve yammered before–and believe it as important as ever–how deflecting or diminishing a nicety denigrates the giver (never our intent).
We infrequently discuss how much better (take my word for it) and easier (yes! yes!) life is when you DON’T amble through it internalizing criticism as life-ending critique.
For me acquiring the skill has been a lifelong process.
The ability to hear, accept, and not grow defensive as a result of constructive criticism has helped me grow (as a writer. as a sister, mother, wife, friend.) and deepened bonds of trust in my relationships.
The ability to assimilate criticism well is not something we’re born with— it’s a learned skill.
I’d never considered this until it came time to teach an uber-sensitive seven year old about graciously accepting thoughts/ideas she may *not* wish to hear.
Only in attempting to explain the concept to her did I realize it’s like a muscle.
Taking criticism with aplomb is a trait we need to build & keep strengthened in order to maintain (OOOH fitness tie-in!).
Before I share my tips it bears clarifying I’m operating on the assumption our criticism-profferer is someone whose opinion we value/are compelled to value. A loved-one, family member, friend, boss etc.
4 Tips For Taking Criticism Without Breaking a Sweat:
1. Dont be a seven year old. This is the most basic of tips and yet the most commonly done. Dont lash back at the criticizer. As we’ve talked about with compliments sit with the words for a moment. Do not reflexively reciprocate with criticism of your own.
2. Listen. Internalize. Do a body-check. Ask yourself where you feel the *stress* of the critical words? Neck? Pit-of-stomach? Shoulders? Work the mind/muscle connection & focus on relaxing those areas both during & after the criticism-experience. Physical relaxation serves to lessen the mental-stress of the critique.
3. “If this weren’t ME…” Step back & ask yourself what youd think if the words were *not* directed toward you. I frequently do this with criticism of my writing. I pause, read critiques through lens of Reader NOT Writer & gauge my reaction. Often if not always my response becomes one of Oh yes! That does improve upon my message.
4. Remind yourself imperfections do *not* make you a failure. Life *is* our healthy living mantra of progress not perfection. No one is perfect & none arrive here with the ability to receive criticism without breaking
a sweat stride. Each time I offer Tornado constructive criticism she & I also chat about how my parents “helped” me in this fashion. We discuss how striving to smooth some of our rough edges or imperfections does NOT make us failures.
I cannot emphasize enough how the life-skill of taking constructive criticism & integrating without ‘anger’ has helped me grow as a person.
And, if said growth/accompanying pain-at-times isnt enough for you freelance writer types, editors adore working with me because they know I welcome rewrite-suggestions
without doing number one above.
Never a bad thing.
- When you’re on the receiving end of constructive criticism how do YOU respond?