5 Ways to React Positively to Criticism

Woman editing a story

How do you deal with criticism? Do you struggle with it? While some criticism does come from a negative place, it is meant most of the time with love and good intentions. So many times in life, we are afraid to try new things because we fear criticism. We don’t want to be laughed at, misunderstood, or judged. If you struggle to handle criticism, here we’ll look at why it isn’t always a negative thing.

Criticism expresses disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes. It is also the analysis and judgment of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work.

Writers and creatives face criticism from themselves, beta readers, editors, and readers – and not all of it will be positive.

How Criticism Makes You Feel?

Unfortunately, even if the person criticizing you is coming from a good place, it can still hurt. Criticism feels like an attack on our self-esteem. It is a natural instinct to become defensive to protect yourself from painful experiences, just like you would put up your hands to stop yourself from falling.

In his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dave Carnegie said that humans hate negative criticism. Learning how to respond to criticism and dealing with the negative things people say is a step in personal development.

The Difference Between Negative and Positive Criticism

There are a few ways to determine whether criticism is coming from a positive or negative place. Criticism can come from a negative place, but often it is given to help us improve. Being able to recognize when somebody is being helpful, or just negative is important. Positive criticism or constructive criticism is helpful, while negative criticism isn’t.

John Maxwell said that we should spend at least 70% of our time on our strengths and only 5% on our weaknesses. Negative criticism puts too much of our attention on what we’re weak at.

5 Ways to React Positively to Criticism

There are some positive ways we can respond to criticism. To soften our negative reaction and turn it into a positive.

1. Tame your Attitude

Most times, we take either an apologetic attitude or an attacking attitude. Many people are naturally defensive when criticized. We either make apologies for our behaviour or blame others for the situation. So, the first step is to tame that initial negative reaction.

2. Self-Growth

Look at any incident of criticism as an opportunity for learning and self-growth instead of an attack on your self-esteem. Ask yourself if there is any truth to what someone is saying. Do they know what they are talking about? Do they give a reason for their feedback, or does it appear that they are nit-picking just to be difficult? If you feel they are justified after careful consideration, then use their feedback to improve. If not, take steps to refute it calmly with evidence.

3. Stay Calm

Calmness is key. When criticized, your first reaction may be anger. However, expressing anger won’t help the situation. It may even work to your critic’s advantage. Keeping calm enables you to fully comprehend where the criticism is coming from and to deal with it more effectively.

4. Take a Step Back

When you receive criticism, try to take a step back before you respond. Try to understand where the feedback is coming from. Thank them for their words and tell them you will consider what they have said to you and discuss it with them on another occasion. This approach enables both of you to calm your emotions and discuss the situation later when you both have had a chance to think about it.

5. Move On

Don’t dwell on the criticism, move on. Your value is not determined by one piece of criticism.

Last Words on Positive Criticism

Criticism is never pleasant, but it is not always negative. You can use criticism to improve yourself. Therefore, don’t dismiss criticism too quickly. Consider it open-mindedly, then decide whether you can learn anything from it

Take Care



Feature image by Wokingham Libraries from Pixabay.



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