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. And, hey, it does hurt sometimes.
So how do you handle it? Here are some my thoughts.
- 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.”
- With that said, I will look at the criticism and look at the critic. Do I know this person? Do I respect this person? Only then is it time to ask if there is some validity to their criticism and whether it is constructive.
- Try some journaling. 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? Why? Understanding how the criticism impacts you can help you in the future.
- Protect yourself from the 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 reveiws on Amazon. If you get negative emails, have someone else handle your emails. 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 the criticism is not about you. It is about them. It doesn’t make it not hurt, though it is nice to have the reminder.
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.”