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How to handle slander and negative criticism
How to manage criticism
Have you ever being faced with a very challenging criticism you felt was misplaced or overstated? How did you handle it?
The act of criticizing people is a noble concept affecting human relationships and it has its benefits as well as possible side effects. In every sense of the word, we need to be criticized and to criticize as well in order to improve our abilities and work. But when criticism is misused especially publicly then there is a problem. The threat of assassinating another person’s character or slandering them is one of the effects of misusing criticism. Before embarking on the mission of explaining how to handle negative criticism let us differentiate it from constructive criticism.
What is constructive criticism?
Constructive or positive criticism is a genuine attempt made to improve the quality or efficiency of a method, process, approach or technique used at getting things done. It never focuses on people rather issues as it seeks to correct and improve the work of the ones being criticized. Consequently good critics will always mention good work already done while mentioning dissatisfaction and some grey areas that need improvement but ultimately pointing workable solutions that will improve on things. It never focuses on the individual but always touches on the issues that need to be trashed.
What is negative criticism?
It is an attempt to verbally (whether written or spoken) discourage an individual or group from carrying out their functions or to turn opinions of other people who matter against the target of that criticism through disparaging comments, misleading advice or use of falsified information against the target usually mentioning specific cases that are embarrassing or even scandalous to the victim. Often times it involves misrepresenting another person’s views, motives, actions or purpose. However not all negative criticism is sinister, some are borne out of ignorance but regardless of the case, negative criticism tends to be a tearing down rather than a mentioning of faults and possible areas of improvement.
How to know why you are being criticized negatively?
When you are being criticized is the object of the criticism yourself or your actions? Most negative criticism aims at persons rather than issues. A good critic always separates the two.
The negative and hateful critic is out to get you. Most negative criticism is usually disguised as efforts to improve on one’s shortcomings. If you are being insulted, maligned or falsely accused as a result of a baseless accusation upon being criticized, it is likely that your critic has ulterior motives.
It almost never suggests more meaningful recommendations than what currently obtains. When you are criticized, what suggestions or areas of improvement has your critic made? Are they better and more useful than what you currently have? Most negative critics pay lip service when they criticize as their actions often times do not match their words.
Why people use negative criticism
Most times bitter and hateful people use negative criticism as a way of getting at someone they don’t like. Such a person might be one they envy, despise or have an axe to grind with. Often times, negative critics want to score points against the one being criticized so the effort is never on how to improve the other person’s work, attitude, behavior or methods but to undermine and discredit them.
How to ward off negative criticism
If you are ever criticized negatively the first thing you should do is to find out the source and motive of the criticism. Who is criticizing you and for what reason? The answer to this will enable you prepare an adequate response to your foes. However not all your critics are worth replying, since many of them are idle hands looking for attention or troublemakers determined to ruin you. But care should be taken when dealing with them as ignoring a career threatening criticism could be damaging.
If your critic holds an important position or has the respect of many people then it is worth the effort to respond to his criticism. An important person with much respect can negatively influence other people’s opinion about your character if left unchecked.
Tips on warding off negative criticism;
1. To effectively ward off negative criticism point to facts when making your defense. This is why keeping records can be very useful. Evidence and not rhetoric will carry the day so show facts that exonerate you in your defense that is far more important than trying to hit back at them the same way they did to you as you will show to the whole world that you are the object of an image smearing campaign.
2. Never reply your hateful critics one on one. Rather use an aide, personal assistant or a go between to talk with them or to answer any questions they may have.
3. Face only the relevant issues ignoring derailing statements and sentiments. Sometimes your critics want you to lose focus and underperform, instead or facing every issue they raise only pick out the ones that could damage your reputation if left unchecked.
4. Expose the motive of your critics when you have the opportunity
When you have successfully exonerated yourself pose teasing questions to people who matter (not the critics) questions like why am I the target of this smear campaign? Could this baseless accusation be coincidental? Answer them with solid facts and evidence that can show signs of bitterness, envy, hatred, spite or other ill feeling towards you. In other words name and shame your critics and slanderers. It is advisable to know where your criticism is coming from so be prepared to name and shame your slanderers showing the genesis of their image smearing with proof.
5. Let your opening response summarize the crux and motive of the criticism
Your response should summarize in the first two or three sentences why and how you are being harshly or negatively criticized.
6. Be concise. Be brief but meaningful in all your responses.
7. If you are maligned publicly by your critics, sue them without hesitation.
Do not allow negative criticism that maligns you to go unpunished even if your critics ‘see’ their mistake and apologize. They must pay for damages done to you either by publicly stating it and making unreserved apologies or by paying compensation or both if the matter shouldn’t go to court otherwise pursue your suit to its conclusion.