I hate receiving criticism. The implications of failure and the manner in which it is delivered make it a bitter pill to swallow. The biblical book of Proverbs states ‘Poverty and shame will come to him who distains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honoured’ Prov 13:18. In dealing with people I have had many criticisms lately, especially with starting a new job (how come you always have the same stuff on the menu, your shop is too crowded, your shop is too empty, your prices are too high, your prices are too low).
Criticism, warranted or not, will come, it’s unavoidable. How we receive it makes all the difference. You can choose to react to it, or to respond to it. Reacting is simply that, a reaction, an instantaneous offensive to counter the perceived negative. Reacting can easily build up offence. Responding, on the other hand, means stepping back, swallowing the emotion and examining the offending information. There is always the possibility (however perfect we are) that the other person may be right. If so, what needs to change? If they are wrong, does the accusation bear a response? In my experience, often not. Sometimes there is need for extra information, just to clear the air.
It is a natural tendency to correct. My fear of criticism lead me, for a while, not to give honest answers when asked for advice, for fear of creating the same emotions that I felt in the other person. I soon learnt that this to is foolish. There is a way to package constructive criticism. Try offering a practical solution to the problem-‘have you considered…’ Or try the sandwich effect, a positive comment, the ‘unpleasant’ bit, and another positive comment. I really like what you’ve done with your hair, but are you sure that top goes with that skirt, how about the blue one instead, blue really brings out the colour of your eyes. And at the end of the day, don’t be offended if they ignore your advice-and what ever happens do not say smugly “I told you so”-they know that already.