The Art of Receiving Criticism


The people around me have been feeling miserable recently, and one major reason is that they have all changed bosses (coincidentally). With the old boss gone, so too is the comfort level. Working with new bosses are hard especially if the boss is quick to criticise and slow to praise. I came across this article recently on criticism which I thought it’s very useful.

MP Denise Phua is the reason I read tabloid paper My Paper. She writes wisely and often relates it back to her experience as and MP and a mother of an autistic child. Unfortunately the paper publishes her articles in Chinese. Still, I found this article to be worthy of my translation.

In her role as a public figures, she has her fair share of being criticised, and thus she tries to use it as a learning feedback instead of taking it negatively.

Most people do not receive criticism well. I have also received my share of criticism on my blog from total strangers and the hollow effect could last a few days. Thus I decide I should learn from her. Through her experience and from reading widely, she had learned a few techniques to change her attitude to deal with these nasty verbal blows and not react with agitation.

1) Draw strength from criticism

Criticism is a part of life, especially if one’s job is to serve the general public. Regardless of whether you are serving in the front line, or as a leader, you will receive the bulk of the criticism.

Aristotle once said, ‘Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.’

We need to change our attitude and be prepared to accept criticism anytime, anywhere from anyone (especially from friends and enemies).

2) Benefits from criticism

There is a saying that it is better to be criticised by a wise man than be flattered by a person of kitsch.

There are indeed many who derive joy in criticizing others. They do so without much consideration, only with the objective of enjoyment that they can ‘outspeak’ others; but there are also many others who criticise with the sincerity to add improvement to the person or organization they are criticising about.

Thus, whenever we are being criticised, instead of reacting agitatedly, why not give a thought to the person and the reason behind the criticism. Perhaps we are being criticised for our shortcomings which we are already aware of, or we are being directed to some things we should improve upon.

3) Detached from the criticism

Dr John Maxwell once said, a person with a high self-esteem will not focus on himself, but on others or the things that needs to be done. They don’t take criticism personally. They believe in their ability and limitations, and will use these criticisms for improvement.

A colleague once realised that the more she focussed on these negative criticisms, the more she doubted herself. It took a few years for this colleague to develop her self-esteem to face the criticism courageously, with the hope of self-improvement. If the criticism was without basis, she had the self-confidence to ignore them.

4) Learn the art of Criticising

Everyone should learn how to give positive criticism, such that the recipient would be more receptive, with a more positive end result.

What is most important to do is to be clear on the motive of this criticism.

When a person has develop the habit of constantly criticising and even enjoys it, nobody would take their criticism seriously. Worse, the people around him may be hurt and victimized.

One should find an effective way of giving out criticism.

The article had helped me, and I hope it has for you too.

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About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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