EQ... Engage Education

On the receiving end

While criticism is not always welcome, it can have a positive impact when given and received right

In past columns, we have talked about how to deal with difficult people and situations, and about having the difficult conversations that go with this; but what do you do if you are on the receiving end of this conversation? What if someone is giving you criticism? How do you accept it, what do you take away from it, and how do you stop yourself from doing or saying something that you might regret later?

It is not realistic to always expect to receive praise. While it is nice to hear good things about yourself, praise may not always help you grow. Criticism, however, while not always welcome, is crucial if you want to become a better version of yourself. Here are some ideas on how to navigate a conversation with criticism.

Deal with it

Accept that you are not perfect: Negative feedback, constructive criticism and unpleasant conversations are a part of life. No one is immune to them; a glance through social media profiles of celebrities and important figures should tell you as much. So if some negativity comes your way, but is delivered with good intentions, don’t hold a grudge against the individual. Try to take what they say in your stride and move on.

Be in the right frame of mind: If you think that you are not in a position to listen – maybe the speaker caught you when you are under stress, anxious, or do not have sufficient time – do not jeopardize the conversation. Explain your predicament and say that you think this conversation is important and that you want to set up another, more appropriate time to have it.

Do not jump to defend your actions: Listen to what the speaker has to say. You might have a difference in opinion but jumping the gun and defending yourself will give the impression that you have not really listened and are dismissing whatever was said so far.

Demonstrate empathy: This is pretty hard to do when your senses are wired for self-preservation. However, put yourself in the speaker’s shoes. Acknowledge their feedback and the impact of your words or actions on them, so that they know you have listened.

Look for the kernel of truth: You may not necessarily agree with every criticism, and that is fine. However, perhaps there is there a kernel of truth to the critiques. First, identify those areas you agree with, and discuss with the speaker how you can work on them to do things differently. Then, move on to those areas where you feel the feedback was not justified, and explain why you have a different view.

Filter out the noise: There will be occasions where you receive feedback that is obviously not given with the best intentions. This is especially evident in the age of online anonymity. Focus on constructive criticism that you recognise as justified, and ignore the trolls.

Do not settle for impoliteness: Sometimes, feedback may not be delivered in a constructive manner. People could take their frustration out on you and end up being rude or disrespectful, even if they did not mean it. If this happens in a one-off situation, recognise that the person might be having a bad day themselves and let it go. However, if this is happening on a regular basis, it can have a toxic impact on your mental wellbeing. In such situations, it is time for the roles to reverse and for you to give constructive feedback to the speaker, explaining the impact that their words are having on you.

So the next time you are going to give someone criticism, think about how it feels to be on the receiving end!

The writer is a psychologist and management consultant. krithvis@gmail.com

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 9:10:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/on-the-receiving-end/article28973703.ece

Next Story