5 Steps to Handle Criticism Gracefully
Taking criticism is never easy. Here’s how to check yourself and avoid ruining your relationships.
The first time a close friend took me aside to share some serious criticism was in 11th grade. She saw me making a mistake and tried to help me fix it. At the time, I jumped to the defensive and ignored her comments. Only with the 20/20 vision of hindsight did I realize that she was right. Our closest friends know us better than anyone, meaning that they’re the best people to help us tackle our flaws.
Taking criticism is never easy. Hearing about our own flaws tends to bring up a defensive response that has ended many a friendship in the past. But getting criticism is also the only way we can work to improve. Next time a friend tries to give you constructive advice, do your best to get what you can out of it without getting hurt.
Differentiate Between Mean And Constructive Comments
Just because a friend tries to help you, doesn’t mean she’s right. If your friend is more insulting than constructive, it might be time to reevaluate your relationship. But if she takes you aside and addresses the issue with kindness and respect, recognize that she’s doing her best to help you. Hear her out.
If your friend shares constructive criticism with respect, avoid getting defensive. Responding to criticism with a defensive or belligerent attitude is a sure-fire way to start an argument. Your first reaction might be to defend yourself and deny her claims, but try not to vocalize these feelings right away. Instead, thank your friend for her concern and take some distance to think things through.
Do your best to get what you can out of their advice
Respect Their Opinion
Hearing criticism is hard, but so is approaching a friend with advice. Respect that your friend has your best intentions at heart and wants to help you. Instead of harboring resentful feelings, think about what you’d do if you reversed your roles. Letting a loved one make mistakes is easy–it’s much harder to intervene, but in the end it’s the right thing to do. Hard as it might be to hear, take the advice as a sign of love. It takes a lot of courage and affection to approach someone on a sensitive topic.
Evaluate With Honesty
Before broaching the topic again, think about what your friend had to say and evaluate her opinion. Be honest with yourself—is she right? If you have questions or want to talk things out more, go to your friend for help. Likewise, if you’re feeling hurt or blindsided, now is the time to talk through those emotions.
Once you’ve evaluated your friend’s advice, decide how you want to use it. Form some concrete goals based on the advice you’ve received to improve yourself. No one is perfect, and criticism is the only way we can see our own flaws and work on them. Use your friend’s honesty to make new goals for self-improvement.
Avoid getting defensive so you can understand their point of view
Those close to us see us at our worst, making them the best people to turn to in times of trouble. They’re also the best people to help us better ourselves. Sensitive topics are difficult for everyone involved, but we walk away stronger, ready to strive for new goals.