by Carly Mayer, M.S.
Getting criticized is tough, it is hard to hear that we did not do something up to par or that we did something completely wrong, especially when we have worked hard at it. Criticism is even more difficult to swallow when it comes from someone we respect or love. These people often have the best of intentions, but regardless of good intentions, our own beliefs often get in the way of the potential benefits of receiving criticism that may actually be constructive. Instead of thanking our friends, family, or colleagues for caring and wanting to help, we instead often think, “I can’t stand that they are always criticizing me” or “They must not give me feedback and should just listen.” This often leads to unhealthy anger rather than annoyance or even appreciation for their feedback.
I bet that we all have the friend or colleague who needs to give their two cents about everything and even if this is not the case, all of us have been criticized at one time or another. As an alternative to telling ourselves that we cannot tolerate criticism or making demands of others that they shouldn’t criticize us, could we instead listen to their feedback and choose to take the suggestions or not? Do we need to feel unhealthily angry or can we tell ourselves that we can live with others not loving our work and others do not have to act in a certain way when we share information just because we would prefer it? Will this help us to feel annoyed rather than angry? Probably!
Criticism and negative feedback will most likely never be something that most of us like to hear. However, we can learn from it and it can help us to grow and progress in work, school, relationships etc. By keeping the anger at bay, we can listen to the feedback and decide to use the offered suggestions or not. So next time you are given criticism, work on changing your anger inducing beliefs and you will likely not only feel better, but you may also reap some benefits.