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Motivate Yourself 121: Dealing With The Critics

One thing that you can pretty much guarantee in life is that you will come under fire at some point.

You WILL be criticised by someone.
Whether that’s a teacher, a parent, a colleague or a random person on Facebook.

We can’t please everybody.
And sometimes it’s because not everyone wants to be pleased in the first place.
Some people actually enjoy being offended or even outraged!
So many things are taken out of context in the media simply to give someone a reason to be angry. It’s a strange quirk of human nature that negative emotions becomes desirable to some people.

But there’s always another perspective, if someone doesn’t notice that you’re behind them and lets the door close in your face, when someone goes to the bar to get 8 drinks but comes back with 7 and yours is the one missing it’s not because of you.
In extreme cases, you might get a text from a selfish friend or relative saying “We need to talk about something that’s been bothering me” and all they want to do is deliberately make you feel guilty over something pointless so that you can babysit next weekend or lend them your holiday home for a month.

It’s no reflection on you.

Maybe you can get them to look at it from your perspective too, if someone is criticising you over something, ask them why it is such an issue? What is it specifically that you did that is so bad?
This can help them to challenge their thought processes and maybe open up the possibility of compromise.

If a manager is standing over you with a stack of work wanting to pass the buck. You may have to keep saying “I’m not able to do that until Tuesday, it will have to wait.” Even if you have to repeat yourself over and over again.
Even if you’re feeling nervous (who wouldn’t?) keep a confident style of body language, if you stare at the floor with your shoulders hunched over then you may as well be saying “Use me but as your spaniel. Spurn me, strike me, Neglect me.”
But if you stand up straight, with your shoulders back a little and maintain some level of eye contact then you’re in a far better position to avoid being spurned, neglected and treated like Demetrius’ spaniel.

The key to eye contact is to not be too “starey” but not be too shifty.
When feeling under confident we do avoid eye contact and avoiding eye contact reminds us of our lack of confidence and will make us feel worse. So to make it easier instead of looking at whoever your antagonist is straight in the eyes, look at their forehead. It will make a huge difference.

Another thing that’s helpful is to agree with them in some way. find the common ground, if someone is having a go at you, criticising you then it’s OK to admit that you made a mistake if you did, agree with the truth at least.
If that doesn’t feel right then agree with the odds.

“You may be right”
“There might be some truth in that”

You’re not being defensive but you’re not fully agreeing with them. Looking for ways to agree with what they say is a great way of taking onboard constructive criticism.

But don’t react right away, if they’re standing right in front of you, then take a deep breath and listen to what they’re saying first rather than trying to jump in and defend yourself.

If its an email or a social network post, then wait before you reply. Be the bigger person, if someone’s being mean on Facebook you don’t need to criticise them back, even if you are thinking what a jerk they are.

If someone makes a nasty reply to one of your Facebook posts you can say

“I guess everyone’s got different views, thanks for yours”
“It takes a lot of confidence to speak your mind, I’ve got to admire that thank you”

It often means that anything that comes afterward is far more likely to be polite, or at least less aggressive.

I’m interested to know how you have dealt with criticism in the past, so please do let me know about your experiences by either emailing me at or using the commenting tool below.

Bye for now.

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