Is criticism justified? Is someone critical because he or she does not like us. Is there a motivation of revenge? Do we feel unsafe around this source of criticism? If we perceive one to be unsafe or potentially abusive, it is in our best interests to avoid contact. How do we perceive this person? Friend or not? Yes, we can benefit from all criticism but that does not mean that we should accept abusive behavior from others. If criticism appears to be justified why are we being criticized? We have an opportunity to ask. Our asking can also clarify our perception of safety if there is doubt.
How well can we listen? Can I listen to someone who is stating negatives about me without reacting, without defending or justifying my behavior? When I hear do I listen? Can I restate in my own words what is said? Sometimes, this helps us focus. After I listen I can reflect on what is shared and decide what applies. Does the critical person demand more than just time to gripe about me to me? Is he or she seeking acknowledgment of fault, public apology, or restitution?
What are my responsibilities? I can let others define me or I can choose to define myself. Perhaps some critical content applies but not all. I can decide what is my responsibility and what is not. I can disclose my response regarding the content. I am not responsible for the reaction of others. If I took responsibility for anything I may have done that merits an apology, once my work is complete, I can let go of a need to discuss any issue regarding the criticism further. It’s time to move on to my next task.
When criticized I should remain calm and agree only where I agree. If I am verbally attacked in a abusive manner, I should set a firm boundary and leave. Listening to criticism can be opportunity to learn how to view myself in different ways. This can be an opportunity to brainstorm and to consider other ideas, themes, methods, and ways of relating.