The word “critic” comes from the Greek “kritos” which means “able to discern”. Likewise, the word “criticize” comes from the verb “krinein” which means “to separate”, “to decide” or “to judge”. We can currently use these words to refer to the act of judging or evaluating a situation in depth; but they are also used to designate an attitude (critical), even a decisive moment (critical moments). In this sense, criticizing is not always an act of offense to the situation being assessed; but it can have the opposite effect: favoring our capacity to discern or to decide.
In any case, when a criticism is made to judge or evaluate a behavior or a personal decision, it can cause us a lot of discomfort. Among other things, it can produce a feeling of anguish or sadness and sometimes anger. In this article we will explain some strategies that can be helpful in dealing with criticism in a way that facilitates both social interaction and the maintenance of emotional stability.
5 strategies for dealing with criticism
When we find ourselves in a situation where we hear something that we don’t like, because it has to do directly with ourselves, it is common for us to react from the emotional filter and we omit the rational part, with which we often generate the feeling of not knowing what to do.
However, even without knowing what to do, we are taking action. And the way we do it can cause discomfort or confusion in other people as well. It may even happen that our reactions to criticism become an obstacle to the development of interpersonal relationships, Or for personal development. For all of the above, it’s worth doing the exercise of asking yourself how we handle criticism and how we might do it right.
1. Assess the situation
Critics, since they consist of a series of social judgments, can easily make us feel guilty. It is important that, before getting to this point, we try to put the criticisms in context. This means that we can reflect on how the perceptions and explanations of others about the success or failure of a performance can be affected according to different labels or social values attributed to our own person. This way we can generate tools to establish a dialogue with the interlocutor (With whom he criticizes), before becoming paralyzed, either by anger or by anguish.
In short, we do not all react to criticism in the same way. Many elements are involved in these reactions, ranging from our self-concept to the possibilities and values that have been assigned to us (and through which we have socialized); that may be different between women and men or between children and adults or between people of one culture or another. Put the criticism in context and assess the situation in which it is generatedIt also has to do with thinking about when, where, and in particular the person the criticism is coming from. This thinking helps us know which comments or situations we should “take personally” and which not.
2. Strengthen self-assertion, beyond criticism
On the other hand, once we have detected that our reaction to criticism is causing us emotional problems, it is time to ask ourselves whether our adaptation directly affects our social skills. In case the answer is yes, we can work on assertiveness; understood as a skill that allows to initiate communication in a respectful and at the same time firm manner.
Be a skill, not a personality trait that some people have and others don’t, assertiveness is something we can work on and develop. It is about clearly communicating our needs and interests, but at the same time recognizing the needs and interests of the interlocutor (i.e. maintaining empathy).
It also consists in discerning between the moments when it is better to remain cautious and more passive; and those times when we need to be active and firm in our decisions. Building assertiveness is a skill that helps us communicate on a daily basis and can go far beyond improving the way we approach criticism.
3. Review and work on self-esteem
Self-esteem is our assessment of our self-concept. That is to say that it is the set of values (positive or negative) that we associate with the image we have made of ourselves. From the most scientific to the most everyday psychology, special attention has been paid to the level of self-esteem it is reflected in an important way in social skills; that is, it becomes visible in effective and satisfying relationships.
The evaluation that we make of our self-concept has an impact on the underestimation or overestimation of our own possibilities and on the recognition of our limits. So, depending on how we perceive ourselves, we may have critical problems (precisely because of the difficulty in recognizing both limitations and capabilities). This can lead to intolerance or rigidity in how we judge others.; and it can generate the same on the judgment that others pass on us.
4. Reflexivity and self-knowledge
Reflexivity, or the quality of being thoughtful, refers to the ability to evaluate something carefully, before doing it. Or, once it has been done, for the results of this reflection to be useful to us on later occasions. Working on this skill can be useful in dealing with criticism, as it allows us to analyze how criticism from others affects us on a daily basis and what actions we may have had on other people. In this sense, reflexivity is linked to introspection and develop a realistic reflection on situations.
Ultimately, all of the above involves working on self-acceptance and self-knowledge, which means taking responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, as well as our actual limitations and possibilities; as part of ourselves and our context of possibilities. Without waiting for unconditional approval, both from others and from us. the last it allows us to work on what we don’t like about ourselves, And at the same time, do not weaken yourself too much in the face of external criticism
5. Share the experience
It’s normal for criticism to cause us some discomfort, and it’s also normal that we don’t know how to react all the time.
In the face of this, another strategy that can be effective in responding adequately to criticism is to share this unease and uncertainty. We will surely meet someone who felt the same, and even if they are not an expert in psychology, it can happen to interesting conclusions about how we felt about the reactions of others, And also on how others felt about our reactions.