Učitaj drugu misao

Latest column

Constructive criticism

Most people react to criticism by instinctively beginning to self defend. Few people (honestly) like the criticism and receive it with a smile, even when it is completely justified. The more you care about someone or depend on their opinion, the stronger your reaction is. But is every criticism negative and what actually makes constructive criticism? Do you know what are the benefits of criticism for you or the very notion of it makes your desire to defend to the last drop of your blood grows?

more >>

Constructive criticism (25/1/2017)

Criticism is a form of expressing opinion about someone or their action. Those who criticize us want us to know that our behavior, opinion, attitude or action does not suit them. And they are willing to express this. With words. The manner in which this criticism is expressed often results in our response, but there are people who react to every critical review in a bad manner.

The criticism that is addressed with tact, and clearly (without blaming) lets us know that we should change something in your behavior is constructive. As the name itself suggests, its goal is to create an opportunity for change that will be welcome for all, the one to whom it is addressed and the one that is giving it. Only when you calmly listen and understand what you are told, you will be able to accept constructive criticism and to respond or take a lesson from the comments received.  

The first thing you should do when you receive a feedback called criticism is - to become aware of your physical condition, and by that I mean - breathing. The first physical reaction will be shallow breathing, rapid heartbeat, and possibly lower or higher spasm in some part(s) of the body. Deep breathing will provide your body with additional oxygen and adrenaline, as a result of stress, will not create a state of tension in response to the situation "fight or flight" (which is our instinctive reaction that we carry in our genetic code form our ancestors who survived for millennia by using it to save themselves from the attack that threaten their life). Although criticism (most likely) will not endanger your life - your reaction to it in the long run could. So - breathe deeply (from the abdomen) and control your breathing. Controlled breathing will further raise awareness of the physical and emotional reactions to criticism, calm you and give you time to really calmly hear what somebody said. If you are not well heard or understood, try to paraphrase and repeat that what your understood of the words received. This will give the other party a chance to know that what you have to say really matters, and also give you a chance to amend potential misunderstanding that might be present in these words (and their tone which is often what really hurts).  It is necessary to introduce in our culture of communication a sentence: "If I understood you correctly, you said to me ..." or something that will help us to better understand.  

Only when the other party confirms or corrects the meaning of what you have understood, you can continue to communicate. Then make a decision whether you like the answer and set firm boundaries (in case you still find it unjustified) or you try to find the opportunity to learn something and to encourage your own changes if necessary (when you find what is said to be a constructive criticism).  

Do not cling to a message that was really negative (even if you only  understood it as such) retelling it  infinitely. This only prolongs the state of stress you expose yourself to. Rather take your time thinking about the value of the message that you got as criticism. If you are motivated to change, accept the new situation. Accepting also means not to resist and not spending energy in vain.  

Be aware that people who regularly (and only) criticize, rarely get to constructive criticism. The tip how to respond to such a person is - avoid them. Simply do not let their criticism lead you to a negative state of mind. Set firm boundaries and keep them at a safe distance.   What if criticism comes from ourselves, from our inner part which is always dissatisfied? If it is an inner voice that destroys our self-esteem, read my column  about self esteem and how to build and maintain confidence. The voice of self critic should be silenced and preferably eliminated by building self-esteem and self-love.  

Begin to breathe deeply and fully. The criticism will just fix your blood pressure because you will breath properly.  

<< back to columns