Mindfully Respond to Criticism in 8 Steps

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The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.                                                                                                    -Norman Vincent Peale

Criticism can be defined as the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.  However, no matter how you define it, it can be a tough pill to swallow.  In addition to criticism being a tough pill to swallow, it can be hard not to react instantly, deny everything, blame someone else, counter attack or storm off.  In some cases, you lose control and unable to listen objectively.

This blog will give 8 steps to utilize mindfulness to respond to criticism:

  1. Listen to what the other person is saying. Resist the urge to interrupt or defend yourself or do anything that will get in the way of really listening. At that moment, your purpose to understand what the other person is saying and what he or she is criticizing you about.
  2. Reflect and Clarify.  Before you respond to the accusation, check what is is you think the other person is accusing you and what you are feeling.  For example, “you are saying that I’ve not done what I promised I would do? or “So you are embarrassed about what I did to Sherry?”  Take time to recognize the feelings of the critic and you to the set the space for a better understanding.
  3. Respond.  Once you cleared what the criticism is and why the other person is criticizing you, take a moment (insert breathing here)!  Then think about how you feel and how you are going to respond. Learn to sit with the discomfort of an initial emotional reaction instead of immediately acting or reacting. You may fully agree, partial agree and refute what was being said to you.  Give clear examples of what position you stand on and provide clear evidence supporting your point of view. If you can’t respond immediately, make an appointment to see the individual, set up a phone interview or email them.
  4. When you can’t respond.  If you have received criticism and you haven’t had an opportunity to respond to the other person (such as they hung up the phone, shared the criticism from someone else).  Do not replay the criticism over and over in your mind,  the more time spent on dwelling on what someone dais, the less time you have to do something constructive with it.  Write you feeling down, when your feelings are written down you will be able to observe your thoughts.
  5. Do not counter attack. Stay in the present.  Do not defend yourself by bringing up offenses the other person may have been committed in the past.  Focus solely on the other person’s grievance.
  6. Agree to disagree. If you can resolve the situation, all well and good.  But if not, learn where to draw a line and agree to disagree.
  7. Look for seeds of truth in the criticism .  Criticism opens you up to new perspective and new ideas that you may not have considered before.  It’s not easy to take an honest look at yourself and your weakness.  Practice how to sit with the discomfort of an initial emotional reaction instead of immediately acting or reacting.  You might disagree with the other person, but there is something to learned from the situation.
  8. It is time to get in Perspective.  Does it really matter? Does it matter that your pattern thinks that you loaded the dishwasher all “wrong.”  The reality of it is, we can’t please all the people all the time.  It can be liberating to let people think whatever they want, they are going to think whatever they want anyway. Accept it, Let it go!!!!

I want to acknowledge the way we respond to criticism is dependent on various factors such as who giving it and why, but whatever or whoever has criticized you, there is a mindful way to handle it.   After implementing these 8 steps,  I would love to hear your feedback on the use of these steps.  Don’t forget to return for next week’s blog coving, How to Give Criticism?

Source: Mindfulness: Be Mindful. Live in the Moment. By Gill Hasson

Balanced in Criticism and Praise, 

Shayla Peterson, LCSW

 

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