How to handle criticism?
“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing” Aristotle
Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots. Frank A. Clark
Before you go and criticize the younger generation, just remember who raised them. Unknown
Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain… and most fools do. Dale Carnegie
HOW TO HANDLE CRITICISM:
Steven Mills in his article “We build People” listed the following ways how to handle criticism:
- Anticipate criticism. It comes with the territory of being a leader. Learn to anticipate the source of criticism and address the issue before it arises. Take a preventive posture even though criticism will still come.
- Don’t try to defend yourself. Don’t reject criticism; learn from it. Although it’s tough medicine to swallow, it can bring health to your soul. List the times that critics have been helpful to you.
- Learn what criticism to accept. It’s dangerous to overestimate or underestimate criticism. It’s also possible to turn a cold into cancer, to deny the cancer, and die. A good rule of thumb: accept criticism from those who have something to gain from your success.
- Be honest with yourself. Ask, is this true of me? Even if it hurts and is difficult. The criticism may be true even if someone expressed it inappropriately.
- Be attentive to God. “Lord, are You saying something to me?” Assume that the criticism has some validity. If you don’t, you’ll dismiss it and possibly miss something God is using to protect or perfect you.
- Identify the person’s motivational gift and temperament. A person who has a prophetic motivational gift tends to be more critical than someone with the gift of mercy. Someone who is task oriented tends to criticize those who are people oriented. A slow-paced person is often critical of a fast-paced person. We tend to view ourselves in terms of our strengths and others in terms of their weaknesses.
- Identify what they are criticizing—-beliefs, methods, you. If you understand what they’re criticizing, you can deal with it and find solutions that address the real issue.
- Thank them for their interest in you. View your critics as friends even if they aren’t. Express your appreciation for their concern about you and/or the group. This will keep you humble and demonstrate that you are willing to learn.
- Resist turning criticism into a personal contest. It’s easy to take criticism as a personal attack and become defensive. When we feel we have to prove that we’re right, we begin to fight people rather than issues. We must learn to lose some battles in order to win the war.
- View criticism as an opportunity to grow. Allow constructive criticism to be part of your organizational culture. Welcome criticism that is given in a positive manner. David’s life was changed because of the honest criticism of Nathan.
- View criticism as an opportunity to witness. Your response to criticism should be a testimony of God’s grace in your life. In your weakness Christ is your strength. Remember that your response to criticism is a good barometer of your spirituality.
- Admit when you’re wrong. Offer an apology in a spirit of humility. Make a friend of your critic by saying, “You are right. I was wrong.” Then correct what is wrong. This helps you to grow. Keep a list of times when you wrongly criticized people, programs, and situations. This will keep your spirit humble and right.
- Don’t retaliate. Dealing with your critics is difficult because you often feel the pain of their criticism. It’s essential to demonstrate the spirit of Christ and avoid retaliation. Don’t answer your critics in your public prayers, teaching, or preaching. Trust yourself to God who says, “Vengeance is mine.”
HOW TO OFFER CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM:
Many may hold back from giving constructive criticism because they don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. Nonetheless, there are times when offering constructive criticism is the loving thing to do. With a little forethought, you can give constructive criticism and obtain positive results.
Step 1: Make sure that you truly want to help the person. Don’t give criticism just to make yourself feel good or increase your own self-esteem.
Step 2: Treat others as you would like to be treated. Put yourself in the other person’s place and think about how you would feel if you received criticism with the same choice of words.
Step 3: Choose the right moment. If the person is upset or going through a difficult situation, it may not be the best time to offer criticism.
Step 4: Find something positive about which to give commendation. A person who receives commendation is more likely to accept constructive criticism.
Step 5: Let the person know that you want to help him. It’s easier to accept criticism from someone who cares.
Step 6: Use tact when giving criticism. Telling someone the truth doesn’t mean that you have to be hurtful. The way you say something has a lot to do with how the other person will react.
Step 7: Conclude by letting the person know that you’re confident that he’ll consider what you have to say. Doing this will show respect for the other person.
Robert Cook, president of King’s College, once told this true story. In his early years of ministry, he began receiving some pointed criticism. It became such a great concern that he sought the counsel of a friend, the beloved Bible expositor and pastor, Harry A. Ironside. Pouring out his heart, Cook asked how he should handle the denunciations of his critic. Ironside gave this wise counsel: “Bob, if the criticism is true, mend your ways. If it isn’t, forget about it.”
Norman Vincent Peale put it this way, “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” We can deal with criticism if we accept it as God’s of making us better people and leaders.
Dr.J.M. Ngul Khan Pau