Responding to Criticism

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“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” ~ David Brinkley

rocks with pink flowerHow do you react when someone criticizes you? Our first instinct may be to defend ourselves, or else to retaliate. This indicates that we have been offended by the criticism. If this is true, we have given the other the power to hurt us.

While it is true that we do not want others to think badly of us, their criticism really says more about them than it does about us. If they are saying something that is hurtful, they are not being respectful and clearly do not have our best interests at heart.

Often when someone criticizes us their intention is to make us feel small, and to make themselves feel powerful. A strong person does not need to use criticism of others to feel powerful.

There are many ways to make a point without belittling the person. To my mind, the relationship should always be more important than the issue. People should realize that a critical remark is the psychological equivalent of hitting someone. Just because it is words and not a fist, does not mean the damage is any less.

If someone is making hurtful remarks, we can let them know that we are not interested in hearing their opinions expressed in that way. Tell them that if they want to express concerns in a respectful manner you will listen. If they continue with the criticism, it is time for you to leave.

Remember that many highly successful people have had to deal with a lot of criticism and judgment. Rather than getting into fights about it, they have chosen to focus instead on their own path. Criticism, if nothing else, gives you the opportunity to remain in integrity, refusing to stoop to that level. You can hardly object to a behavior if you turn around and do it yourself!

Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
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