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Several weeks back I had a conversation with a colleague about her distress over a poor review of her book on Amazon. “But I want everyone to love the book,” she said, really meaning, “I want everyone to love me.” She believed that if someone did not like the book, they did not like her.
I think we can all fall into that trap, wanting to be liked. I can remember exactly when I decided I didn’t care if everyone liked me. I was working in the offices of an ad agency, and one of the men in the office told me he didn’t like me. Well, how could that be? I am truly likable. Then I thought about it and realized that I did not really like him. He had poor work habits, always sloughing his work onto someone else, and I generally did not like being around him. Why did I think I cared anyhow?
It is just not possible to avoid criticism, especially in our social media world. And, hey, it does hurt sometimes. And, you can learn to handle it.
Dealing with criticism
Only one opinion really matters, and that is yours. If you choose to take personal responsibility for yourself, then you will be open to criticism. You just have to accept that it happens, and as one of my friends says, “Get on your own horse and live your life.”
Who is the critic?
With that said, look at the criticism and look at the critic. Do you know this person? Do you respect this person? Only then is it time to ask if there is some validity to their criticism and whether it is constructive.
If you are familiar with Brené Brown, she would refer to this as listening to those who are in the arena. She values criticism coming from those who are in the arena with her, those who know what it’s like to get knocked down, as opposed to those in the stands watching. Then it is time for some soul searching and a consideration of whether you need to make some changes.
When you look at the critic, too, consider that even if you do not like someone, their criticism may be valid. Think about whether the criticism in honest and well-intended.
Learning from criticism
Try some journaling or introspection. Why is the criticism so hurtful to you? Does it bring up past hurts that you have not dealt with? Does it start you on a negative spiral? Do you then become your own worst critic? Why? Understanding how the criticism impacts you can help you in the future.
Protect yourself from criticism. I said that your opinion is the one that matters, so do not open yourself up to naysayers. If you are a book author, do not look at your reviews on Amazon. If you get negative emails, have someone else handle your emails. If you need to see them, you will. Your job is to keep yourself in a positive, growing place so you can focus on what is important — and those negative reviews definitely are not!
Remember that the criticism, particularly destructive criticism, is not about you. It is about the critic. It doesn’t make it not hurt, though may make the wound less.
Finally, remember the words of Zig Ziglar,
“Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember, the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.”
It’s your turn!
How do you handle criticism?