Criticism is a fact of life. No matter what you do people will, at some stage, have there opinions about it and feel the need to voice it in a way that doesn't always seem positive. Some people tell you to ignore criticism, others say it's an opportunity to grow and learn...just what is the best approach to dealing with it?

Well, in my opinion, both of the above suggestions can be useful. Sometimes criticism can be to put it bluntly, completely inaccurate and useless and other times it can highlight useful information and insights that can help you develop as a person.

In this article I'd like to outline a technique that you can quickly use to let go of negative feelings you feel when you are criticized and uncover any useful information that is present. Before we get to that though read through the following Top 3 tips for dealing with criticism.

Tip 1:- You are just too Involved in the process...

One of the main problems when it comes to criticism is that we are usually too 'involved' in the experience to separate what is useful information and what is not. It's very difficult to gain an understanding as to what is really going on when we are experiencing the full situation through our own beliefs, values and prejudices. To begin to get a more complete view on the experience we have to get some distance from ourselves and begin to see, hear and feel it from various different perspectives. I'll be showing you a technique that will help you do this later on in the article.

Tip 2:- They are only telling you how they perceive it not how it actually is...

This is very important to keep in mind. It's only their doesn't reflect the full reality of the situation. As human beings we take in millions of pieces of information every moment through the five senses. (Sight, sound, taste, touch and smell) If we were to be consciously aware of all these pieces of information we would be totally over whelmed and unable to function. Because of this our brain does something pretty neat. It makes generalisations, distorts and deletes information leaving us with a watered down, filtered out version of reality.

While this has the obvious advantage of helping us function effectively in the world, it means that our opinions are in complete, biased and influenced by our beliefs and values.

This is a wonderful thing to know when it comes to criticism. While the opinion they are voicing may have elements of truth in it and contain useful insights, it won't be conveying the full picture and it will only be from their watered down, filtered out skewed version of the world. Just keeping this in mind the next time someone criticizes you will be enough to soften the impact.

Tip 3:- Most People aren't Professional Coaches...

Simple yet true...Most people that criticize you aren't professional coaches and have received little training in how to give feedback. Because of this, what can often start off as a well meaning intention can come across as an attack. Of course there are times when people's intentions aren't well meaning but a lot of the time it just appears that they aren't. There are usually three reasons why someone would give you criticism:

  1. Because they care for you and want to help you grow as a person.
  2. Because they disagree with you.
  3. Because they feel insecure and want to try and tear you down to make them feel more significant.

If it's the first case then great...your job is to seek out the useful pieces of information and see if you can use them to improve.

If it's the second one then that's okay...As I've explained in point number 2, they are only expressing their opinion from their own perspective through their own prejudices, beliefs and values...How boring would it be if everyone was the same...

If it's the third one then trust's a must be doing something well in the first place for them to take the trouble. Think about 'tear you down' you have to be high up in the first place. Just see it as a learning experience in how to communicate with these types of people rather than taking their criticism to heart.

A Technique for Dealing with Criticism...

Now that you know the three tips for dealing with criticism, this technique will have more relevance and be a lot more powerful. Pick an example where you have been criticized in the past and go through the exercise...You'll notice a shift almost straight away. I go through this process most of time someone criticizes me and the negative feelings always go away in light of the new insights it brings me.

  1. Pick a time where you were criticized and you took it badly.
  2. Close your eyes and play through the experience from your own, eyes and ears. Feel what it felt like.
  3. Now imagine what it would be like if you were to take a step outside your own body and replay the full experience through the eyes of the person who just criticized you. See, hear and feel what it's like from this perspective.
  4. Notice any insights that naturally present themselves.
  5. Now imagine stepping out of this person's body and go to a neutral position possibly half way between yourself and them. Play through the whole experience from this perspective.
  6. Again notice any new insights that naturally present themselves.
  7. Now step back into your own shoes bringing with you all the new insights. Imagine how you would have responded differently now that you have these insights.
  8. Go off into the future and imagine what it's going to be like dealing with a situation like this with these new learning's and insights.
Author's Bio: 

Steven Burns is known as 'The People's Coach' and is an NLP Trainer, Coach & Hypnotherapist. Following the end of his 9 and 1/2 relationship he decided to specialize in helping people overcome social anxiety and become more confident and skilled in all aspects of socializing. You can find Steven's latest work at The Guide to Social Confidence