Arianna Merritt

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How do you deal with criticism?

In any field, you will always encounter critics. You can't control the behaviours of others but you can control how you react to the comments. I would like to learn more about the strategies individuals use to cope with criticism in a positive way. I am looking for your insight. Thanks!

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    Jun 19 2012: As long as there not complete jerks, I usually use there input to add on to or improve my ideas.
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      Jun 19 2012: Thanks Kevin! It's true - constructive criticism from a reliable source is necessary :)
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        Jun 20 2012: Especially when you have much left to learn.
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    Jun 19 2012: I have served in the military, industry, and public service and have often been critized, some valid some not. You cannot fight the slings and arrows sent your way. As Shakesphere said, "I think thee protests to much" then doubt sinks in.

    I see this even here on TED Conversations. It is of interest to me how responses are framed. Some are blunt and harsh, some are soft and persuasive, I tend to use humor and follow with facts and observations from my life experiences (and yes I have been admonished for humor by a TEDster).

    My advice is to live your life in such a manner that the claims of others is difficult to be taken serious and reflects badly on them.

    I think there are some great answers already logged on to this conversation.

    All the best. Bob
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    Jun 19 2012: Hi Arianna,
    I listen carefully, consider the source, ask myself introspective questions to evaluate the criticism as it may or may not pertain to me, accept the criticism as a valuable gift, because if it doesn't honestly reflect something about me, it gives me information about the person criticizing:>)

    We are like mirrors to each other reflecting information back and forth all the time. The clearer our mirror is, the more we can intuit the intent, meaning and value of the criticism. When our mirror is clear, and we know ourselves, criticism is simply another way to learn, grow and evolve.
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      Jun 19 2012: Hi Colleen.

      Thanks! Wise words. That is such a great analogy. I am going to write that one down. So glad I posted the question, I really appreciate all the feedback from everyone!
  • Jun 19 2012: Criticism is like a fire lit by someone and thrown at you. You can hold it and get scalded or douse it by water of humour or wear a thick armour so that it doesn't touch your skin and burn you.
    Criticism is difficult to manage by those who take things seriously and/or personally. Those who take everything in their stride i.e. have an abundance of confidence in self, do not usually get affected by it. They either make the criticism into a joke and laugh it off as they know the critical remark is not true for them or just walk their way without taking notice of it.
    Some others, take it as a feedback and think about it, is it true or just a retort from someone who is either jealous of you or just wants to put you down to make himself/herself feel better off / more important than yourself.
    I personally, use both these methods.
    If, on analysing I find the remark is correct, I accept my shortcoming and try to better myself else if it is the other way then just laugh it off. Sometimes, a humorous retort in return about the other person evens things out and tells the other person that they cannot get away with idle criticism or just accept it as a common human thing.
    Keeping quiet works for me with particularly nasty people, who, no matter what you say will get even more and more offensive, the more you talk to them. It's like adding fuel to fire. When you keep quiet, they do not get the fuel and ultimately burn up and get consumed by their own criticism.
    Well, that's just me. I am sure others will have a lot of other ways. Looking forward to their way of handling Criticism.
  • Jul 2 2012: I first decide if it is criticism or something else, such as pandering or ridicule. These I ignore.

    I then consider the source, the motive for the criticism, consider the merit, and then take from it what I believe to be useful and use to to my advantage. If the criticism took some thought and effort on the part of the critic and was well intended, I generally thank them for it, in hopes I might be the beneficiary of such useful information in the future.
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    Jul 2 2012: I work as a trainer/facilitator in the field of crime and trauma, so i am training adults every week. Part of being a trainer is gathering feedback after each training to see how the training has met or not met peoples expectations. I have always worked frontline with victims, so this is the first time I have been confronted with a job that comes with "feedback" after every single session. That means I am inviting criticism every time I do my job. Initially I was unprepared with how this would impact my confidence. Though most of my feedback has always been positive, in the beginning, I struggled with the few negative comments, which I took really personally. As much as part of me still hates negative feedback or criticism, I am a much better trainer because of it. I have taken the criticism over the years and used it, and molded myself into a great trainer. that doesn't mean that i don't still occasionally get negative feedback, but at the end of the day, I have come to realise that you can never please everybody. In the same trainings i have had people say I am the best trainer/facilitator ever, they love my style, humour, blah blah blah and then others who would prefer a different style. I have learnt to not let it get to me, and if there is any critism that I can use to improve great, but if it comes down to one person's opinion, held up against dozens of others who feel differently, I am going to go with the masses. I have learn't to use criticism, not be undone by it. It takes confidence in your own abilities and also understanding of those who have a need to criticise or bring others down in order to feel good themselves. that is their failing, not mine.
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    Jun 20 2012: Ignore!!!

    That's a single word answer to your question.

    But ignoring a critic upfront might be a terrible loss of information for you. So listen to the critic, Analyze the data and see whether you can get some good points out of it. If yes take those points and Ignore the rest else Ignore the whole. That's a simple formula to handle critics

    Based on my analysis critics information is 50 % valid and 50% invalid so at any point of time we cannot come to a conclusion upfront. Sometimes listening to it might give you other person's views which can be of great help.

    Who else other than friends will use their brain to give us fruitful information, The Critics.

    Good luck Arianna.
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    Jun 20 2012: I take my two index fingers and put it into my ears and shout "la la la la..." until they are done....just joking. =)

    You can take your critics at face value and consider their critique first, but when you haven't found any error from their critique after a bit of an analysis, then ask for second opinion or more; and, after a second or more opinions and they don't see an error, then conclude that critique is in error. If their critique is accurate, then apply their critique.

    Emotionally speaking, you should be open minded and confident that the other person has a thoughtful comment, but don't set your hopes anywhere near the other persons critique or even in the subject matter they critique, hence face value.

    If their comment is disrespectful, then address the issues of how you feel at the end of their comment.

    That is the extent of my experiences. Hope it helped a bit. =)
  • Jun 20 2012: I have taken criticism differently in different portions of my life. When I was a bit younger I was overly sensitive to any bit of criticism. To put it plainly i couldn't take anything with a grain of salt.

    What I have come to understand is that i need criticism. I don't mean criticism in the sense of someone devaluing my opinion and personally attacking me. What I mean is that i need someone to challenge my views, understandings, and work in order to gain a more clear and broad acumen.

    What I tend to notice is how I present my idea and how much time I have put into it. If i do a sloppy job and present my idea as absolute fact i get much criticism. When I really think my idea through and present it, in an honest and open manner, it seems as though the criticism i get is much more constructive and well intentioned.

    What I am getting at is, we often get what we give. This is not always true, occasionally you run into people who are looking to boost there ego by cutting down the ideas of others. This can usually be seen rather quickly when i am in a centered, calm state.

    If we know who we are then we need nobodies approval . That is not to say we don't need proper criticism more likely we don't need to be validated by our peers acceptance of our work, ideas, or approach.
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    Jun 19 2012: Oh, and it depends on if they are criticizing me personally or simply how I approached a particular task/problem.

    If it is personal then ignore them or flame them back!
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    Jun 19 2012: If I'm criticised about something that isn't urgent I usually just say something like 'that's an interesting way of looking at it' in a neutral tone of voice.

    It's non-commital, can be taken as if I'm belitting their criticism, thinking about their criticism, or don't care about their criticism either way. This gives me the space to stay empowered and not be weakened by malicious criticism.

    It also gives me time later on to think about what they have said properly and work out if it had merit, or even if it was just an attack disguised as criticism.

    Thus I'm better prepared to react in an appropriate way next time that they offer a view.
  • Jun 19 2012: Consider the source and the motivation of the source. Trust yourself.
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    Jun 19 2012: Criticism is a greater indication of how widely you are reaching with ideas/actions than praise, especially in the age of 'likes' and 'clicks'.

    If it's someone I care about, I'll (try to) listen. If it's a stranger or someone whose job it is to criticise, then I ignore. Who really cares what other people think?
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      Jun 19 2012: Thanks Scott! I agree with you. Great points. I'm the same. It shouldn't matter what people think but sometimes its easier said than done. I do think it's "easier" in a sense to ignore when someone is criticizing your idea/actions versus criticizing you. Thats what I have seen hurt the most is when the critics go deep and comments on a persons character. I ignore but it can be hard sometimes. I think it's so important to not let the comments influence/stop you from being you.
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    Jun 19 2012: In all criticism there is some truth. So I look for that and discard the rest. It might take a couple of days to discard it, but eventually it gets to the garbage can.
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      Jun 19 2012: Such an important lesson! Thanks Linda - love your perspective.
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    Jun 19 2012: If the criticism is reasonable, test or change your thesis! If it's not then that's easy, ignore it.
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    Jun 19 2012: I've tried many ways to deal with criticism over the years, incusing laughing it off, arrogantly brushing aside the criticism as the unfounded ideas of minds vastly inferior to mine, to crawling inside the bottle of my own despair wondering why nobody loves me. Then when I finally matured (not became an adult, but finally matured) i finally realised that all criticism is intrinsically valuable because it is the one way to see your idea from a perspective that you will not manage on your own. Secondly, criticism shows that on some level the antagonist respects you, because they are responsing to your actions/ideas. If they considered you without merit, they wouldn't even takethe time to critizise.

    Or I might just be rationalizing that in orderto make criticism hurt less. That works too.
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      Jun 19 2012: Great points! Thanks for the encouragement. I needed to be reminded of this so thank you! I agree and think of the quote "If you dont have critics, you are doing something wrong."
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        Jun 20 2012: You are most welcome, ma'am.

        And I like that phrase. It could even be expanded to "if you don't have critics, then you're not doing anything at all!"
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    Jun 19 2012: "Criticism, as first introduced by Aristotle, was meant as a standard of judging well." Samuel Johnson said that. I think the exactness of the word's meaning has eroded over the years to include malicious, unproductive expressions. Regarding your question, if you are using Aristotle's meaning, my answer is that I appreciate criticism. I view it as helpful and benevolent. Otherwise, I ignore it. The hard part is judging the intent (heart) of the critic. Thank you!