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Dealing with Criticism from Others

July 25, 2020

Let’s face it; it never feels good to hear someone else criticize you, your work, or your beliefs. When you start your investment journey everybody around you will suddenly become "investment experts". But learning to overcome other’s critical words is an important life skill and one that is necessary for your personal and professional success in life. Learning to hear others’ opinions and perspectives is crucial to realizing your potential, and you can learn to handle criticism without tears or hurt feelings. Here are some tips on dealing with criticism from others.

Step 1: Recognize Different Types of Criticism

There are many reasons why people may criticize you. Sometimes, their purpose is to help you improve and give you suggestions for your personal or professional growth. This type of constructive criticism is offered in the spirit of feedback and is meant to help you. When you receive this type of response from a co-worker, superior, teacher, or someone invested in your success, it is likely they are offering this in the spirit of helping you grow and learn.

Others may not be as well-meaning when they offer criticism, though. Destructive criticism is usually mean to make you feel bad, and those who use this type of feedback do not have your best interests at heart. If this is the type of feedback you are getting, your tactics for dealing with it will be quite different. Knowing the real intention of someone’s critical remarks can be hard, but when you focus on the messages and how it was delivered, you will get many clues as to the nature of the criticism.

Step 2: Accept Your Imperfections

By embracing your imperfect nature, you learn to accept that there is always something you can learn and that you are never finished growing in life. Learning to listen and accept others’ feedback is an integral part of embracing a growth mindset. When you agree that you are not perfect (nor is anyone else), it is easier to hear the criticisms of others. Not being able to see your own flaws or mistakes is part of being human, so when someone tries to point them out to you, you must learn to listen and analyze what they are saying.

The other part of this, though, is that you must decide if the feedback offered is vital to you or aligns with what you believe to be important in life. Someone may not like something about you, but if you are okay with it, you do not necessarily have to respond to the feedback. But the important thing is that you think about it and make an intentional decision, not just provide a knee-jerk defensive reaction that is defensive.

Step 3: Stop Taking Everything Personally

When criticism is offered from a constructive perspective, it is meant to help improve you or teach you something. So, just because someone does not like the way you did something does not mean they do not like you. One mistake does not make you a horrible person. Learning to remove yourself from the criticism and examine the behavior being questioned is crucial, as it helps you to see how your actions impact others.

Step 4: Decide How to Address the Feedback

If the criticism was offered in the spirit of constructive feedback, you need to make a plan for how you would like to address it. Asking follow-up questions or gathering more information may be necessary to help determine the scope of the problems. Set a goal and create action steps for addressing the issue if it is essential to your relationship, job, or another aspect of your life. Be sure you show your appreciation to the person offering the feedback if it was helpful and allowed you to grow or change productively.

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