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Criticism and how to deal with it?

Updated on January 16, 2015

Much earlier, criticism was meant primarily for literary works but now, in general parlance, it has acquired a more general sense of censure for what we don’t like or approve of.

A person may criticize someone in order to let one avoid a certain mistake in the future. For example, a boss can criticize an employee, when he makes a mistake or a parent can criticize one’s child for the same reason. Such criticism may be constructive, since it is meant to point out one’s mistakes in a positive manner so that one can make required changes in one’s behavior. But some people seem to criticize and put down others with no apparent reason. There are many reasons why people criticize others. They criticize to make others feel unworthy to hinder their success, to prove their own worth to others or when they have jealousy and inferiority feeling. Such a criticism can not only be damaging for the person, who faces it but it can damage the image of the person, who indulges in such criticism.

Mostly persons don’t think twice before criticizing others because critical behavior is so well established in their nature. Practically, we have no tolerance for the ideas of others that are different from our own, making us argumentative and angry. But truth is that there will always be differences of ideas between others and us. Most of us, in fact, are simply unaware of repercussions of our criticism or critical behavior.

It has been found by the researchers that those, who receive destructive criticism, report greater anger and tension. They handle future disagreements with the source through resistance or avoidance and are less likely to handle disagreements through collaboration or compromise. Further, it has also been found that those, who receive destructive criticism of their work on an initial task, set lower goals and report lower self-efficiency on additional tasks than those, who received constructive criticism or no feedback. In another study on the employees of a large food processing company, it has been reported that poor use of criticism was perceived as a more important cause of conflict than did competition.

Primarily, there are two types of criticism viz. constructive and destructive. Learning to know the difference between two will help us deal with any criticism that we receive.

Let us examine how an act of criticism can be destructive –

  • An act of criticism will throw a negative energy at the person who is criticized. It will definitely hurt him or her whether we realize it or not. We in turn will invite negative energy from the person who has been hurt by us. And, at the same time, we are throwing negative energy into the universe for ourselves. According to the law of attraction, what you put out, you get back. So, we will get back negative energy in an amount that is much more than we have thrown out. Let us not forget that everyone makes mistakes. They are necessary tools for growth and wisdom. If you truly feel that someone is wrong, then don't give it any energy! Focusing your attention on the mistakes of others only gives them more power.
  • When we criticize others, we let them know who we really are. We are announcing to others that there is an imbalance of harmony in our life, which makes us to place blame on someone. The ego is at work here and whenever ego takes over, it will not be a positive experience. With ego active we are self-centered but not centered in self. A big difference! Always remember - Respect yourself by respecting others. Honor and love yourself and you will never dishonor or hate another.
  • We are all aware that anger begets anger, violence begets violence, and that is why there is so much pain in the world. No one is immune to the feelings of sympathy for the human suffering that goes on in the world. So, we should choose our thoughts and words carefully. If we don’t, we will simply add strength and momentum to the energies that create strife and dissension in the world. Humanity is inter-connected. What you do to another, you do to yourself and to the planet. What affects one person does indeed affect us all. So, the negative energy of one person also influences the collective consciousness.

How to deal with criticism –

We all are likely to be criticized by someone at some point in our life. Some individuals are critical by nature and do not always realize that they are hurting the feelings of others. In fact, people, who criticize everything, are the ones who need help. We can either use criticism in a positive way to help someone grow or in a negative way to prevent someone from growing. Therefore, how to deal with criticism positively is an important skill, which can be learned.

  • Always remember that you should not respond in anger to an act of criticism by someone. Otherwise, you will project a bad image of yourself.
  • Try to remain calm and treat the other person with respect and understanding. This will defuse the situation and let it not go out of hand. This will project you as a stronger person.
  • By remaining calm and silent, we get detached from the criticism and don’t give it energy. A fight will not ensue if we don’t give it more importance than it deserves.
  • If you feel that you may lose control of yourself and say something harsh, simply walk away. Leaving the place will give you time to gather yourself. Remember that never allow the criticism of someone to be destructive to your confidence.
  • No matter what kind of criticism is aimed at you, analyze it to find something to learn from it. Always remember that there is some truth in criticism even if it appears to be hurtful.
  • Step back to see the things from other’s perspective and use criticism wisely as a learning experience.
  • Don’t take a criticism personally because someone may be doing it just out of jealousy. Since jealousy is a passing emotion, the person may not be critical of you in a real sense.
  • Smile in the face of a criticism because smile will create a more positive vibration and smooth out the situation. Smiling will make the other person moderate one’s criticism.

Criticism is an integral part of human nature. We all have to face it quite often because we all think differently but are conditioned not to accept this fact. And ignoring the fact, we, therefore, become judgmental. But, albeit all this, we can learn how to differentiate between constructive and destructive criticism and how to make constructive use of a destructive criticism.

When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.



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    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 2 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks for your valuable comments. I fully support your viewpoint. Many criticize others just because of mere jealousy even if the other person has not hurt or harmed them in any way.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      Your are so on point with this hub. You and I think so much alike. I dislike criticism when it is used to put someone down or break their spirit. I have learned to train my ear to see if there is a lesson to be learned even if someone uses harsh words, but I had to grow to that point because I used to be filled with anger and resentment. Most people who constantly criticize have their eyes outward and not inward- meaning it takes one to know one and if they fix themselves first, their 'criticism will not sound so harsh.

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 3 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks for the comments. I agree with you that criticism at the workplace can easily be disguised as an attempt to help someone to improve the productivity. But one should not forget that the mistakes of someone can be corrected by pointing to them without criticizing them. This will have a better impact on the person, who has made mistakes. Criticism in any form is always negative in nature.

    • TimArends profile image

      Timothy Arends 3 years ago from Chicago Region

      Good hub and subject. Another thing I have noticed about negative criticism is that it is often used in the workplace as a form of hazing or harassment. This is very easy to get away with, as it can be disguised as trying to help a new worker "improve his or her productivity," although in this form of criticism, nothing the new worker does is ever really done "correctly." There have been several books written on the subject, and the current term for it is "mobbing."

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 3 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks for your encouraging comments.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image

      Krzysztof Willman 3 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      Very interesting insights on criticism and it's true meaning. I used to fear it but wasn't afraid to give it out but now I know that critiques are necessary to take in. I also moderated how I criticize others as I ask myself what if I was them.