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How to Deal with Criticism in One Single Step

How to Deal with Criticism in One Single Step

writing

    Let’s say you’re a web designer, or a writer (just for the purpose of this post, so please bear with me). And you’ve just created a new website (or an article). You love it. That thing is awesome. Everything your client could ever ask for. The design – slick. The goals – achieved. The budget – not exceeded. It fits your client’s requirements hand-in-glove.

    Then you start thinking: “Wow, I’m so proud of myself right now. I need to show this thing to my best friend, even though he’s not a designer,” so you do.

    And what does that traitorous little weasel say? “It’s cool, but I don’t know… This header seems a little too minimalistic. Plus the font is not friendly enough, and I really believe it would have been so much better with a bigger logo.” Just the pat on the back you’ve been looking for…

    So what’s the first and only step of dealing with criticism?

    Don’t care. You’re not going to please everybody.

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    I know what you’re thinking, and please don’t scream at the screen. You’re thinking that while not all criticism is constructive you always have to try to extract some valid points out of it.

    Well, you don’t. Not in this case.

    First things first, let’s start with explaining why you asked for an opinion in the first place, and what was the reason behind choosing that specific person to address the question to.

    Were you really looking for an opinion or just a pat on the back?

    If you were looking for a pat on the back and you didn’t receive one then just stop right there and leave it, you really shouldn’t care. Just find someone else to ask and try again. Repeat until you get what you want. Caring too much eventually destroys your productivity even more than answering emails.

    On the other hand, if you wanted a real constructive opinion, then why did you ask someone who probably doesn’t have any knowledge in that field?

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    Let me put it this way; would you really care when someone said something like: “I think that medical diagnosis your doctor gave you is wrong! I’m not a doctor, but trust me, I know this stuff. I’ve seen three seasons of Dr. House.” … of course you wouldn’t. You know better than that.

    So here’s the lesson. If you want a valid opinion ask someone who can give you one.

    If you want a medical consultation ask a doctor. If you want a legal consultation ask a lawyer. If you want a design consultation ask a designer.

    If you ask the wrong person, well, you’ve brought it upon yourself, so now you’ll just have to deal with it. Just because someone is your friend/mom/brother/bartender doesn’t make them the right person to ask.

    I know that every now and then even a random person can give you good advice, but that’s just life. Every now and then you will find money on the sidewalk, but it doesn’t mean you should make it your new career and search for it 40 hours a week.

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    I’m sure you will get far better insights by asking just two people (or even one person) who have some experience with whatever you want to ask them about. That is, of course, if you’re looking for a real opinion. If you’re just looking for a pat on the back then go with ten random people.

    OK, moving on. What if the right person didn’t like your work either?

    Don’t give up. Follow up with that person and ask one simple question: “why?” Always ask “why”. Search for some valid points. Ask until you get an answer like: “I don’t like it because …” Search for the “because” – that’s what’s important. If the person can’t give you a “because” then:

    Don’t care. You’re not going to please everybody.

    If that’s a really valid “because,” something that forces you to think, something that’s real, and makes you feel embarrassed that you didn’t come up with it yourself, then, by all means, consider it and try to improve your project. Then get back to that person and ask for another opinion. And again – you want a “because” this time as well.

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    On the other hand, if the “because” is just silly; something like “I don’t like the green theme of the website because I prefer blue”, or “I don’t like your new furniture because mahogany is not really my thing” then:

    Don’t care. You’re not going to please everybody.

    The art of dealing with criticism is really simple. If it’s valid – care. If it’s not – don’t care, forget about it.

    What are your ways of dealing with criticism? Do you care? Tell me in the comments below!

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    Karol Krol

    Blogger, published author, and founder of a site that's all about delivering online business advice

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    “We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

    “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

    Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

    You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

    Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

    1. Take a step back and evaluate

    When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

    1. What is the problem?
    2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
    3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
    4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
    5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

    Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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    2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

    If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

    At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

    Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

    3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

    Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

    4. Process your thoughts/emotions

    Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

    1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
    2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
    3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
    4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

    5. Acknowledge your thoughts

    Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

    By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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    Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

    6. Give yourself a break

    If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

    7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

    A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

    Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

    After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

    8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

    As Helen Keller once said,

    “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

    Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

    9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

    In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

    1. What’s the situation?
    2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
    3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
    4. Take action on your next steps!

    After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

    10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

    A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

    Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

    For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

    11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

    No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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    12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

    No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

    13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

    There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

    After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

    Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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