I don’t know anyone who likes being on the receiving end of personal criticism and we all want to steer clear of negative people but the reality is that we’re probably going to encounter one or the other or experience both far too many times throughout our lives for any of our liking.
How do you react and handle criticism? It’s hard not to take it personally, especially if the disparagement is delivered hurtfully.
Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots – Frank A Clark US Congressman
Even if we give everything we do our utmost, avoiding criticism altogether is an impossible task for most of us, especially if it’s coming from your boss or a work mate or a member of your family.
As difficult as it might be, the key is learning how to handle that criticism and putting in place strategies to cope with any destructive forces that come from it.
To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing – Aristotle Ancient Greek philosopher
The first step is to look at it objectively and putting aside the way it was delivered, instead of taking it to heart and going on the defensive, you need to try and look at the specifics and weigh up if the criticism is justified or not.
Having clocked up forty five years in the media, I’ve had to develop a very thick hide just to cope with the criticism levelled at me by viewers and listeners, who certainly don’t hold back and have no hesitation at firing barbs.
This level of censure has been magnified for every one of us with a social media presence, where we can easily find far too many faceless, gutless keyboard warriors, who hide behind the worldwide web and get indignant for others. They do it about all sorts of issues that often have nothing to do with them, yet they still feel the need to vent their spleen.
My remedy for these sorts of attacks from those sorts of people, who aren’t even game enough to identify themselves and stand-by what they are saying, is to simply ignore them! That’s not the sort of feedback any of us needs to help us improve.
My choice of Logies’ outfits over the years for instance, has garnered me enormous disapproval from all quarters of the media and the general public and I can’t say that much of it didn’t hurt because it did but instead of letting it impact on me emotionally; I now try and look for the positives and learn from the experience.
I realise I’m never going to please everyone with what I say or do or wear, so the most important person I need to keep happy is me.
Often we over-react to criticism because deep down we know there is actually some truth in what’s been said. That’s why looking at criticism diagnostically without emotion allows us to learn and improve from it.
We can all learn from corrective criticism and we should be mindful to not ‘shoot the messenger’.
Don’t let people’s compliments go to your head, and don’t let their criticisms go to your heart. The degree to which you do either of these things is the degree to which you’ll be ruled by what other people think of you. – Lysa TerKeurst NY Times Best-selling Author and speaker
Dealing with Negative People
Wouldn’t life be a breeze if we were always surrounded by positive people, who only ever had our best interest at heart?
We all have a bad day from time to time, if we didn’t we wouldn’t appreciate the good days as much, but you might be in an unfortunate position of having a boss or co-worker or family member or friend, who seems to have endless bad days and it’s having a negative effect on you.
You might not be in a position to physically avoid them or wipe them from your life altogether, so in order to cope; you need to develop ways to deal with these negative people.
Don’t let Negative and Toxic people rent space in your head. Raise the rent and kick them out. – Zig Ziglar US Author and Motivational Speaker
If you can’t escape the naysayers in your life then it’s time to adopt Plan B and implement ways to neutralise them. Here are a few suggestions;
Set boundaries –
While it’s important to be a good listener, you’ll probably butt heads if you try and find resolutions to their issues or try and unravel and solve their problems. Unsolicited advice isn’t often well received especially if it’s being directed to a negative person, who isn’t always looking for help when they whinge.
You can never win an argument with a negative person; they only hear what suits them and listen only to respond – Michael P Watson Author
Stay positive –
I find the best way, if you’re surrounded by anyone who is negative, is to try and remain positive. It’s always good to be sympathetic but if they aren’t happy then don’t feel it’s your responsibility to try and uplift them; they might have a valid reason for feeling that way. Always offer to help but only give it if they request it.
Keep an emotional distance –
it’s easy to get sucked into the destructive vortex of a negative person and it can become harder to remain positive the longer you remain around them.
You might not have a choice as to how much time you spend with them, whether your dealings are professional or you see them socially but it is important how you engage with them in the process.
Negative people are usually quick to get on the defensive so it’s wise to avoid getting into any arguments by sticking to noncommittal responses. Also be aware of the precious time and energy they are drawing from you in the process.
Negative people need drama like oxygen. Stay positive, it will take their breath away – Anon
Kill them with kindness –
I’ve actually used this method very successfully on more than one occasion when I’ve been confronted with a persistently negative person, who was not being nice or polite in their dealings with me.
One situation that immediately springs to mind is a nightmare next-door neighbour I had. Instead of butting heads, I adopted the opposite approach and found it worked far better to diffuse each issue or circumstance that arose by acting positive rather than reacting to their negative.
It’s amazing how disarming it is for them, when it’s obvious they are spoiling for a fight, but you just kept giving them over-the-top positive responses to every one of their negative comments instead.
I must confess I get a wicked sense of self-satisfaction when I see how furious some people can get when they don’t get the negative response they were provoking. When I refuse to meet their fire with fire and ‘kill them with kindness’ instead, some get so worked up it looks like they could implode.
It takes practice to gain control of your emotions when responding to negative situations but each time you do, you’ll get better and better at it.
If all that fails and you still have to spend time with them, to help take the pressure off you, maybe think about mixing with that person in a group setting. Their negativity can be diluted amongst the group rather than you having to deal with it all on your own.
I’ve always said you can’t choose your relatives or your neighbours or your work mates – unless you’re the boss of course; but you can choose your friends.
If you have a ‘friend’ who is always negative towards you and keeps putting you down; if it is not corrective criticism that will help in your self-improvement then you really need to weigh up whether they are actually a true friend or not and maybe cut them loose or see less of them.
If you value this person and want to remain friends then it would be worth telling them how you feel and explaining what impact they’re negative comments are having on you.
You might not be able to control someone’s negative behaviour but you can control how long you partake in it.
Protect your spirit from contamination. Limit your time with negative people – Thelma Davis, Author
Dr Trudi Griffin, a Licensed Professional Counsellor from Marquette University in Wisconsin, says that people have many different reasons for negativity, including insecurity, low self-esteem, an abusive past, frustration in life, and low confidence and may have a hard time seeing the positive side or the positive outcomes of life.
Remember that negative people are victims of smaller minds and hearts, so forgive them – Bryant McGill, US author, speaker, activist
Dr Griffin warns that someone who is negative all the time may be depressed and she emphasises that if the negativity ever takes the form of conversations about self-harm or harming others, you should encourage that person to seek professional help as soon as possible.
She says don’t let anyone else’s negativity turn you into a pessimist and drain you of your positivity.
We all need to take responsibility for our own happiness.
Don’t worry if you had a bad day, remember there are people who have their ex’s name tattooed on their body – Anon
Take care cheers susie
Susie Elelman AM
Author, TV and Radio Broadcaster