How do you feel when someone criticises you? If you’re like many people then your reaction and response depend on a number of factors. It may depend on who is criticizing you. Your mood that day and disposition can also play an important role. Of course it can also depend on how they criticize you and what they’re commenting on.
Regardless of the situation, you can change your reaction to the criticism. You can learn to control your emotional reaction to criticism and not let it impact your self-esteem.
1. Evaluate the Source
When you’re receiving criticism it’s important to evaluate the source. A perfect stranger posting a comment online is much different than hearing something negative from your significant other. The deliverer of the criticism is important. What’s equally as important is the motivation for their criticism. Are they trying to help or hurt? Understanding the source of the criticism can help you frame it better.
2. Look for the Benefit
Assuming that the feedback is coming from someone who is trying to help, then focus on what you have to gain from the criticism. For example, a writer who hears from their editor that the dialogue feels forced can take that information and improve their dialogue. They can become a better writer. There is power in listening to criticism.
3. Detach from the Feedback
What other people think about your skills, characteristics, knowledge and so on actually has no impact on who you are as a person. Their opinion isn’t your reality – it’s theirs. And vice versa – just because you think someone is cruel doesn’t make them cruel. Detach from the feedback and remember that it doesn’t define you. You define you.
Feedback and criticism can be difficult to take under any circumstances. Remember who you are. Learn from the feedback and remember to pay attention to the person delivering the criticism. How much does their opinion really matter to you?
One characteristic of good self-esteem is the willingness to be assertive and to go after what you want. In my next post I will take a look at how to be more assertive.