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How to Deal with Criticism Properly

The only way to avoid hearing criticism is to be deaf or dead.

The only way to avoid being criticized is to never have been alive.

As history books have shown, even the dead can’t escape criticism. So, those of us who are alive must simply learn to deal with it; even as we often try to avoid it.

As much as we hate it, criticism isn’t all bad. Criticism, regardless of how it was intended, can help us adjust and adapt to situations. It can provide useful insight, justified or not, into our lives and give us the opportunity to become a better person.

Rarely do we enjoy hearing it, but criticism is a needed component for growth as a person.

There is an old Arab proverb that says, “if one person calls you a donkey, forget it. But if five people call you a donkey, buy a saddle.”

Or, take a lesson, and perhaps try a different approach.

In most circumstances, you can freely ignore criticism coming from a single source, or perhaps a few dubious sources. But be careful about ignoring criticism from someone who knows you pretty intimately and is likely point out things that other people won’t–or can’t.

Regardless of the source, if you find yourself hearing similar criticisms from multiple avenues, it might be a good idea to take stock in what’s being said. Failure to do so will only result in the same mistakes being made time and time again.

Of course, not all criticism is justified. Sometimes we get criticized for things that other people don’t understand. Often ignorance or lack of information, combined with a healthy dose of bias, can bring someone to criticize something that they really don’t get. I have recently found this to be true of myself. People just don’t know the full story of what is going on in other people’s lives, but they often find it easy to criticize anyway.

Preacher, Henry Ward Beecher stepped up to the pulpit one Sunday morning to deliver his sermon. As he put his bible on the pulpit there was a paper with the word “fool” written on it. He lifted the paper for the congregation to see then announced, “Generally I receive letters from people who write letters and forget to sign their name. This letter is different. The person signed his name but forgot to write the letter.”

There is nothing you can do about unjustified criticism other than to let it roll off your back. Don’t let it get to you, don’t let it bother you or change you. But take note of what you hear; if the same criticisms keep coming up from multiple and trusted sources, then it may be justified. In which case you need to accept it, learn from it, and change what is necessary to become a better person, employee, business owner, spouse, parent, grandparent, friend, etc.

Criticism is a part of life. But, what we do with it makes us who we are.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

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