How to embrace all manner of criticisms to soar to higher heights

Focus on the hurt and continue to suffer. Focus on the lesson and continue to grow. (Source unknown)

I could not believe what I had just witnessed!  Can someone really say such horrible things to another person, and a friend for that matter?  As I walked to the parking lot with Milka sobbing by my side, all I could do was to allow her to cry.  Crying is therapeutic.

When we got to the car, sitting next to Mika whose sobs by now had intensified, maybe because we were sitting in the car away from people’s prying eyes, all I could hear were her loud sobs and nose blowing.  Bbrrrr!  Sitting in silence while avoiding eye contact with her since it was an awkward moment, I reflected back to the episode of a few minutes ago.

The mid-morning meeting coffee date with Milka and Brenda had started very well.  The three of us used to work at the same place and had kept in touch over the years, and would occasionally meet to catch up.  Everything was going well, so I thought, until Brenda, without any provocation, said to Milka, “If I had the kind of money you do, I would dress better than you because you do not have a sense of fashion, and” she added, “do you even own a mirror?”

My reaction to all this with my eyes, ears, and nostrils wide open and almost falling apart from my body was—Whaaaaaah!

Here is this thing, no one is immune from receiving criticisms.  What is important to remember is that you should use your judgement to distinguish constructive criticisms from distractive criticisms.

In the discussions that ensued between Milka and I after she had calmed down, we agreed that distractive criticisms are best handled by:

  • Considering the source. Is this someone you admire or respect?  If the answer is yes, listen and ask questions so that it becomes easier for you to assess the criticisms and know how to take the necessary action
  • Thanking the person. This is because your critic plays a major role in keeping your ego on check—and should not be ignored
  • If the answer to the first bullet point is no, remind yourself that sometimes not everything that is said is bad, so use your judgement to pick the good and leave the bad

When it comes to constructive criticisms:

  • Do not take it personally, and respond respectfully
  • Ask specifics questions that will guide you to get to the heart of the matter—and be gentle and polite while at it
  • To show your appreciation for the feedback, ask your critic to advice you on how he or she thinks you can improve

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