My Tuesday must be having an identity crisis and thinks it’s a Monday because today is every bit as busy as yesterday. Whew! There’s more work on my schedule than hours in the day but no complaints here — mama needs to get the car into a mechanic, call the plumber and visit the dentist. But in between meetings, all of which ran over their allotted time, I realized the level of negative criticism that surrounds me – both internal and external – is a huge roadblock in my journey.
To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
My Inner Critic is mentioned a time or two on this blog, and I really am doing better at keeping him quiet, for the most part. Duct tape helps. For some reason though the external negative criticism has increased to fill the void left by the internal. What the cuss? Now, I most certainly cannot control what others say or write about me. But the way I allow my brain (and, let’s be honest here, my heart) to process that external negative criticism is within my control.
So, how do I handle negative criticism and the Negative Nelly who gives it?
First, I remind myself to stay calm. Human nature and socialization have conditioned me to react rather than respond. Therefore, I make sure to listen carefully to the words being used. Without interrupting, I allow them to finish their critique.
Second, I ask for clarification on the message I received. Communication is complex and involves different components, many of which are subjective. Making sure what I heard is what they actually said can be tricky but it’s vital to clear communication.
Third, I evaluate the message’s validity. Does what this person said have merit? Do they speak the truth with factual evidence? Or are they merely ranting and only present a critique based in emotions? True self-awareness is a required tool for this evaluation.
Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.
Fourth, after I’ve evaluated their message, I respond based on logic and not emotion. In other words, just the facts ma’am. However, if they are using negative criticism to put me down, make me feel bad or any other type of emotional hijack*, my response is, “I don’t agree with how you’re speaking to me and I don’t deserve it.”
Finally, I listen as they [hopefully] respond [versus react] and work toward a resolution with which we are both satisfied, if possible. Most times a Negative Nelly just wants to bring me down to Miseryville with them and could care less about giving constructive criticism or feedback. In those instances, a resolution may not be do-able.
*End Note: Many experts believe all forms of negative criticism are in fact verbal abuse and should not be tolerated, whether it’s a business relationship or a personal one. If you feel you’re being verbally abused, simply respond along the lines of, “Yikes! I don’t care to hear that kind of talk.” Or, “Stop! Don’t talk to me like that.” Most abusers (read chronic criticizers) don’t realize what they’re doing is abuse.
For more information on verbal abuse, read The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans or visit the web site.
How do you handle negative criticism? Since it’s still November, and my last two posts are about gratitude, are you thankful for negative criticism?
Remember, I’m not referring to constructive criticism or feedback, which is given in an effort to help another person improve or grow.
Photo credit: Rune Spaans