No one likes the sting of criticism. Yet, whether we like it or not, criticism is inevitable. Part 2 of a 3-part series.
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How to Deal with Criticism
Today we’ll pick up with the remaining quick and dirty tips to deal with criticism professionally and graciously. Recently, author and speaker, Beth Beutler and I started our discussion by suggesting it’s unrealistic to assume you and your ideas are always going to be well received. We suggested that you respond and not react. That is, expect criticism and then practice positive responses. If possible, get clarification and then say thanks.
Vent Appropriately and Prepare
After you’ve done all that, you may still feel angry, frustrated, or upset. Find a healthy way to release those emotions that came from the critical conversation.
If it’s a really important relationship, I don’t want hurt the relationship by saying something stupid. So privately I allow myself to be angry and upset. I often write an email in which I allow myself to say whatever I want, even things that I know aren’t true. The sole objective is to express my angry feelings. And, of course, I NEVER actually send the email. (In fact, I always make sure to put my own name in the “To” field because I never want to accidentally send this email to anyone.)
Write Your Feelings Down
For me, writing a message allows me to organize my thoughts and clarify my feelings. After I have had time to cool off I usually delete the message--and then I’m ready to face the situation more objectively. (Occasionally I’ll keep a note like this just to remind myself of my blurred perspective when I’m angry and hurt). The main point is that you need to plan your conversation and not have an off-the-cuff emotionally heated discussion (especially as you’re walking out the door).
A Word of Caution about Venting
Many people like to vent to supportive friends and co-workers. That can be healthy, within reason. However, if the friends might be negatively influenced by learning of the situation (for example, they work for the same person who criticized you) you may want to pick someone else—someone more objective.
Remember that our negativity toward a person can rub off on friends or fellow co-workers who may not have had any existing problem with that individual. It’s not professional to be the person creating a negative culture and defeating teamwork just so you can feel better.