Until that point, you were having a good – no -, a GREAT day. It was a sunny Thursday afternoon… and you had awesome plans for the weekend.
High fiving your work buddies or chilling with your best friend, you just couldn’t hide that cheerful mood. Why would you? So far, everything was going your way. Laughter was frequent. Smiling felt natural. Nothing (or no one) had the audacity to affect your mood.
And then it happened…
In the middle of what seemed to be a normal conversation…BAM! Like a swift arrow zooming mercilessly towards its target, those mean-spirited words hit you…HARD.
At first, you were speechless. Then, humiliated. As you tried to piece together the broken pieces of your ego, humiliation quickly turned into anger. Your heart started pumping faster. Your fists clenched. You aggressively lashed out — responding with merciless fury!
“Well, look who’s talking!”
“Ha… take that! How dare YOU criticize ME”, you thought to yourself.
And it felt good… for a while.
Later that night, things took a turn… for the worse.
You tossed and turned in bed, feeling guilty. Guilty for lashing out. Guilty for losing control. Guilty you couldn’t resist the burning urge to defend your pride.
Then, regret slowly crept in. You wondered why you reacted so impulsively. You tried to convince yourself that it was in self defense, but it was in vain.
Deep inside, you wished you hadn’t shouted out those things. You knew you were better than that. If only there was another way…
Well, it turns out there IS a better way to cope. A way to be true to yourself. A way to come out on top.
1.Bite your tongue.
Your first impulse is to reply with something like:
“You aren’t so (…), yourself, Roger!” or “How about that time when you did (…), Nancy!?”
DON´T DO IT.
Resist your first impulse to fight back. It takes a lot of self control, but I know you have it in you. You’ll thank me later.
2. Take a deep breath
Nothing is quite so strikingly effective as deep breathing.
Slowly inhale through your nose. Exhale through your mouth pushing out all the air from your lungs and stomach. It’s okay to take your time.
It’s better to deal with a little awkward silence now.. than a week of remorseful regret later.
3. Reflect on the person who said it
Is it somebody you care deeply about? Or is it someone whose opinion just doesn’t matter. Does he/she have authority on the subject? Does he/she have a proven track record of excellence to judge you? Probably not!
4. Consider the circumstances
Maybe the person is having a bad day. Maybe you are particularly sensitive due to a personal problem. Or maybe, you just took it the wrong way. Don’t become a victim of circumstance.
5. Analyze the actual criticism
Is it true? Be honest! If so, be grateful that somebody had the sincerity to tell you — even if it wasn’t in the nicest way. Usually the criticism that hurts the most, is the one you truly need to hear.
6. Be aware of negative feelings (and crush them with this exercise)
If you are able to pinpoint the exact feelings, like: anger, pain and humiliation, you are able to crush them in your mind. Just visualize you are taking a hammer to a glass window and let loose. Watch the words (and the feelings associated with them) vanish. Goodbye, nasty thoughts!
7. Realize that nobody is perfect.
You are not perfect. The person who criticized you is not perfect. Who’s gonna be a better person and act all mature about it? YOU! Who made a mistake? NOT YOU!
8. If you must respond immediately… Answer with poise and class
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all response. It depends on who said it, what they said and where they said it. But generally you can say something to the effect of:
“Thanks! I know you want what´s best for me. I will think about what you said and try to improve with your feedback.”
If you say it enough times and truly mean it, it will sound authentic and people will respect you for it. GUARANTEED.
The next time somebody criticizes you, remember what you learned… and take a different approach. Don’t lash out. Don’t take it personally.
Do use the tips to rise above the occasion and take full control of your emotions. You will feel (and sleep) better this way. You will also gain the awe and admiration of everyone who was lucky enough to witness your thoughtful (and mature) reaction to a tough situation.
Congratulations… You are now officially critic-proof.