Criticism can be painful. It can feel like an attack, and your natural reaction is to be defensive, maybe even to lash out. Most people find criticism hard to deal with but learning how not to take criticism personally can make life a whole lot easier.
1 – See Criticism as an Opportunity
It can be easier not to react emotionally to criticism if you reframe it as feedback. Probably, it wasn’t intended as a personal slight, much less an attack on you. Try to see critiques as an opportunity to learn how to do things better next time. Think of it as a prompt to grow and use it to course correct.
2 – Remember You Only Have Your Perspective
Before you react to a terse email or a grouchy response from your boss, try to remember that you don’t know where they’re coming from. You might be reaping the effect of a bad day, a string of frustrations, or even the reaction to their own bad feedback.
3 – Take a Break
Your immediate reaction to being criticized is likely to push back defensively. Instead, take a breath (or three), pause, and reflect before you respond. Just because someone has criticized you or your work, that doesn’t mean there may not be at least a grain of truth in there. Take another look at what your critic is saying and see what you can learn once you’ve allowed some time for your initial emotions to dissipate.
4 – Reframe Your Response
Reacting to criticism is a habit like any other behavior, and you have the capacity to change it. Try to focus on the positive. Ask yourself what you can learn from it or how you can help the critic. Maybe they misunderstood. Perhaps your communication wasn’t clear enough. Practice processing feedback in a constructive way, and you will stop dreading it in the future.
5 – Be Kind to Yourself
There’s no getting around it, being the recipient of criticism can feel pretty crappy. Be kind to yourself, especially while you’re learning to handle criticism differently. Acknowledge the emotions that have been evoked. Accept that being criticized can hurt. Then distract yourself from those feelings. Take a break and do something that feels good, whether it’s walking in the park, seeing a movie with a friend, or just grabbing a coffee. Remove yourself from the situation so you can get over the emotions and be in a better place to deal with it when you get back.