Criticism–4 Types and How to Survive Them

Wizard of Oz

(Also published in OmTimes.com take link to see it there)
Out of the blue―BLAMO!―someone CRITICIZES us. It’s unexpected and hurtful, and it’s personal, or at least if feels that way.
What do we do?

We want to defend ourselves, or punish the offender. Maybe a well-aimed insult. But if this is a friend, colleague, boss, or family member, we might not want to burn that bridge. Where does that leave us? How do we navigate the tricky waters of criticism?

The next few moments are crucial to our continued relationship with that person.

4 CRITICISMS & What we cab do to survive them:

1. The “What was THAT about?” Criticism― We had no idea it was coming and sure didn’t expect it from this person. So it’s good to stay calm and listen to what’s being said. Perhaps that person isn’t great at sharing her thoughts and just stumbled. Reaction: It might be good to walk away, take a few calming breathes, and then ask questions for clarity. We don’t need to be destroyed by it and there could be some gems there that we don’t want to miss out on. See it as an amazing growth opportunity.

2. The “I SEE you and EXPECT This” Criticism—This criticism isn’t a surprise. We know this person and she does this to us every chance she gets. Reaction: Assuming we didn’t earn her loathing, we need to be able to shrug this stuff off. Keep calm and walk away. This person doesn’t need our energy.

3. The “Uh-oh, I needed to know that” Criticism―This might come from anyone, a friend, a colleague, a boss, even a stranger. But this is something that we probably didn’t know we needed to know. Maybe we always frown at people when we’re talking to them. Who doesn’t find that off-putting?! Or maybe we’ve been extra cranky lately and lashing out at people. Reaction: Whatever it is that we needed to know, we need to be gracious to the deliverer. This was probably as hard for her to tell us as it was for us to hear.

4. Public criticism—is ugly and unnecessary unless everyone involved is part of a political arena. Often times the purpose of this is to prove superiority in front of everyone else. Reaction: Time to have a talk with the perpetrator to discuss their goal for this type of attack. If they don’t want to play nice, apply #2!

For all these criticism types, it’s good to remember there could be a great piece of life-changing info buried in one. There’s a trick used in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) we call Perceptual Positions.

First position is seeing the criticism from our own perception–that’s an ‘ouch.’ Second position is where we see things from the other person’s point of view–a little less ouchy. Third position is when we are able to step back and see both sides without having any emotional stuff in the mix. Okay, that’s doesn’t hurt and it’s interesting.

Let’s look at more closely at that criticism and move to the Third Position. Here we can take an objective point of view, as if we are seeing the conversation between two other people. As we do so, we notice HOW these two are talking to each other, their points of view, beliefs, goals and even motivation.

Now we get the big-picture view! And now we’re in a much better place to learn from the criticism and relationships are (we hope) salvaged. YAY, that person really does have our back!

They’re are probably as many types of criticism as there are ways to handle them. I’d love to hear from you on how you deal with criticisms that come your way!

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