Perfect people don’t exist, which is why there will always be some who find grounds to condemn you for what you do. Unfortunately, you’ll never be able to avoid criticism completely, but you can learn to extract valuable lessons from it.
The following simple tips that show how best to react to complaints in a way that makes all criticism a beneficial experience.
When someone challenges us, the first thing we need to do is cope with our emotions and recognize that the person has a right to their own opinion. If a person has summoned the courage to say something he doesn’t enjoy saying, it means he wants to engage in a dialogue with you and thinks you’re important enough to engage with. Underlying this behavior is a greater amount of sincerity than you will find if someone simply stays silent.
Try to see things from the other person’s perspective, and find grounds to agree with his or her point of view. For when a person offers criticism, they expect a rebuff — that’s just human nature. But when he or she hears the words “thank you“ instead of agitated resistance, they’ll find themselves ”positively confused.“
When we’ve said “yes!”’ to a rebuke, we’re better prepared to try to make sense of what’s happened and enter into a real constructive dialogue.
Criticism doesn’t always coincide with how we understand the situation. Therefore, it’s important to voice your own position. But this should focus on objective information, not an attempt to justify or excuse yourself. This way, the person we’re talking to will see that we’re trying to make sense of what’s happened. The point is, people are prepared to accept a lot if the situation is explained to them in a respectful manner. This can help other people see the situation in a new light and take our opinion into account.
When we use that little word “but“ it helps us to avoid adopting a position summed up in the words ”whatever you say.” Even if we recognize other people’s right to criticize us, we’re not obliged to accept everything they say as the unassailable truth.
When we’ve heard the criticism and expressed our own well-argued position, it’s important to try and take a joint decision about what to do next. To help the other person understand that you’re not simply throwing up a barricade to their ideas or feelings, you need to suggest concrete and constructive ideas.
If we respond to criticism using this sequence, then the negative feedback can have a positive effect on us, helping us to not only find out much that is useful but also correct in those areas where we’ve been going wrong. More importantly, this process can help us to improve our relationships with other people.
The right to be mistaken
Obviously, listening to someone criticize you is not easy, and it’s even harder to ensure it has a positive outcome. Some people see even the most insignificant criticism as grounds to break off a relationship, seeing virtually any negative remark as a serious insult. But the more mature an individual is, the more he’ll permit others to have the most varied opinions of him and what he does. He realizes that he can make mistakes. In recognizing that we have a right to make mistakes, we don’t expend so much energy on trying to hide them from ourselves and others. And the less afraid we are to be mistaken, the less we’ll experience stress and the greater our chances of achieving success will be. If we’re open to the possibility of being criticized, then we expand the scope of the useful information we’re ready to imbibe and the circle of people we’re prepared to involve in our lives. This ultimately means we can move forward and grow as individuals.