Criticism – Feedback or failure?
2. To find fault (with something) – Oxford Dictionaries
Criticism!! The word alone screams ‘NEGATIVE ALERT’
I don’t know about you, but in the past, I very rarely took criticism well, ‘Constructive’ or not. Most of the time, it was the way it was delivered though. You’d always get that 1 person that felt the need give you ‘constructive criticism’ because they were ‘trying to help you’ but inside you knew they were just digging you out to be unkind and make you feel like crap, and most of the time you didn’t even ask them for their opinion. For certain, that was more about them then you though.
The challenge of receiving criticism, even if it’s warranted or not, can be difficult to hear, we often take it to heart, become hurt, defensive, upset or angry. Our judging mind jumps in with pointed self-criticism too, leaving us embarrassed, disappointed or can often make us feel like a failure.
It’s important to remember, that criticism is often constructive too. It can be given to help us improve and grow. Learning how to listen to it openly and receptively helps us become less defensive and less emotional, so that we don’t miss the point of what’s being said.
What if you didn’t look at it as criticism though, and looked at it as feedback? Or something else? Would you still feel as irritated by it?
So how do we accept the constructive criticism or feedback, when a boss, friend, or family member shares words that feel pointed or hurtful. How do we listen, without judgment?
Rather than close off, and become defensive, try to consciously take a moment. Take a few calm deep breaths, while the other person is speaking. Using your conscious breath as a tool to calm you, can help you try to remain open, and not take what the person is saying personally, even if it feels personal. Sometimes, I take a deep breath and smile. This may not always be appropriate though, however if the opportunity arises, try it. It works wonders for me, and completely changes my feelings towards the situation I’m in, and the person delivering.
When we are calmer, and in a state of non-judgement, and non-reactive, it gives us space to decide which valid points (if any) we want to take on board and let go of those that don’t serve us. We can choose which parts to disregard, or which parts to take as constructive feedback. Feedback often becomes an opportunity for growth and self-improvement. If it’s given constructively, take it seriously, but not personally.
Often, it’s not until we take some time out, to reflect that we appreciate that the person critiquing, may have had a point, but at the time perhaps we just didn’t want to hear it.
Our ego jumps right in and tells us it’s failure, but It’s not failure, it’s feedback, nothing more. If there is truth in it, try to learn from it, otherwise let it roll right off you. You have the choice and the power to react to it or not.
Negative words like ‘criticism’ ‘Judgement’ & ‘Failure’ have been imprinted in our minds for years. Our ‘Self Talk’ & ‘Ego’ feeds off it. My whole life I have compared myself to others and have also been compared to others. Everything was about, striving to be as good as someone else, or trying to ‘fit in’ by changing who I was to meet someone else’s expectations. ‘If I could just do what they’re doing at work, I’d maybe get accepted’ or ‘If I could only be as confident as them’ people would like me more. I saw not reaching those goals, and always being compared as a failure.
The truth is and believe me it has taken me 38 years to figure this one out, it was NEVER failure. It was always meant to be that way, to allow me to find out who I really was. I won’t lie, it’s been a difficult process at times to work this out. Do I wish I had worked this all-out years ago? I could say yes, but I didn’t, and I can’t change that. The positives I can take out of the experiences I had, were that the more I failed, the more I learned, and the more I learned, the more I grew as a person. I now get the opportunity to Coach & Mentor people around breaking through their limiting beliefs and achieving their goals, by figuring out ‘Their Why’
We may be criticised/critiqued & judged, but really knowing who you are, and being kind to yourself will allow you to have the confidence to see it for what it is, without becoming emotional.
Get practicing guys,
Love and gratitude,