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You enter a coffee shop after a long day at work. You fall in line to order your favorite expresso and told the waiter to reserve your usual spot in the corner. While you wait for the person in front of you to take his order, you receive a message from your boss saying, “Good job today. You are an asset to the company.”
Your cheeks turn red as you read the text. All you want to do is scream at the top of your lungs, feeling good about the progress you’ve made recently. You’re proud of yourself. All the late nights and breakdowns finally paid off. When it’s your turn, you can’t help but smile and talk to the cashier cheerfully. You even leave a tip for her. It’s the usual Wednesday morning in your weekly plan schedule, and receiving that text message deserves a spot in your journal. In fact, it’s more than a motivating sentiment.
To you, it’s an energy booster, a daily reminder, a source of inspiration to be excellent at what you do. Your boss’ approval is like a multivitamin you accustomed your mind to receiving, any less or nothing at all constitutes a bad day. Walking towards the seat you had the waiter reserved, you blow your hot coffee then take a seat. You open your laptop and start working. Then suddenly a colleague from your office comes by. You aren’t close enough to be called friends or acquaintances. You barely know her.
“Yes?” you directed your attention to her.
“Can I tell you something?” she said.
You reply politely and engage in small talk. You’re surprised she came to talk to you since you never talked before. You think anyone can have friends, but not anyone can do what you do. So you distance yourself away from people whom you think don’t deserve you.
You don’t want to admit it but you choose your friends. You’ve had your fair share of high school drama and you didn’t want that life anymore. You put so much confidence and trust in your instincts even if they’re wrong. You want her to walk away so you could finish what you were doing, but at the same time, you want someone to be interested in what you do. That’s all you ever want. You want to be complimented, praised. That’s what you assumed she’d do because that’s what you usually get. But instead, you get the opposite. You’ve been criticized.
In your twenties, you are most likely done with high school and entering a brand new chapter of your life, regardless of what it may be. For most, this is one of the most crucial times of your life as it determines the course of your future. Some say your twenties are your hustle stage, it’s the period of your life where you have to work hard and sacrifice short-term wants to get to what you truly want — freedom, security, love, etc.
Some also say your twenties should be the time of your life when you have to enjoy every moment of it as you won’t have any more time or money or energy to spare in the next decades to come. And it will never be the same. You only live once, they say. Depending on whom you ask advice from, it all boils down to which path you want to take. But you have to act smart and choose wisely. When you’re in the transition of growing, it’s inevitable to yearn for external validation from your family, strangers, friends, and even from your competitors.
Just because you know for yourself you’re pretty, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel good to hear it. Just because your family and friends support you in your endeavors, that doesn’t mean you don’t want strangers to support you as they would. The truth is, we all want to be acknowledged, appreciated, praised. We all want to be recognized and valued in the best way. Regardless of the type of criticism, what matters is how you, and not others, respond to it. You know your worth, but there’s always that part deep inside that needs other people to reaffirm it for us.
It takes humility to understand that the amount of effort you put into your work does not equate to the level of skill you have. The amount of charity works you participated in does not equate to the level of generosity you have. Although it somehow sends a message that you’re heading towards a better direction for your life, there are times when you’re likely to deceive yourself about your intentions. It’s a matter of truth between yourself. A sacred communication that only you can understand.
But what happens when you get criticized for something you’re truly passionate about?
When someone misconstrues your dedication to something different, how do you react?
When your purest of intentions are treated the opposite, will you defend your name?
6 BEST WAYS TO RESPOND TO CRITICISM:
KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT AND LISTEN
Before you act out of impulse, train yourself to remain calm in situations like these. When you’re confronted with unsolicited criticism from people (especially those whom you don’t expect to hear from at all), understand that you don’t control what others have to say about you. Even if you live a life worth emulating, you won’t always get the feedback you think you deserve to hear. You can’t please everyone, and convincing yourself you are an exception will only burn you out. People will always have something to say, that’s just the way it is.
Otherwise, we wouldn’t grow into our fullest potential because we’re stuck in the recycled, comforting words of others that do nothing helpful but feed our ego. Whatever people have to say, listen to them (at least be cordial while they’re talking) even if you agree to disagree. This takes humility to accept that you’re an imperfect human being like everybody else and your record isn’t as spotless as you think it is. We all make mistakes and sometimes it gets rubbed on your face when you least expect it.
It’s easy to act out of anger when you got what you didn’t expect. You look at the person and assess quietly how much respect you should give her. Before you get tempted to say things you will regret, think about things that make you feel good about yourself — the smell of coffee on your table, the kind text your boss sent you, the awaiting promotion on your office desk. Anything that reminds you of your worth. Don’t be succumbed to the painful grasp of mere opinion.
ASK ABOUT THE CRITICISM AND TALK TO OTHER PEOPLE ABOUT IT
After you’ve taken a minute or two to cool down, make a mental list of the questions you want to ask. Don’t resort to talking back senselessly or to responding with sarcasm. Don’t pretend like what she said didn’t hurt you or bother you at all. Also, don’t resort to responding not-so-good personal commentaries back to the person. It doesn’t make sense to attack her physical attributes or her body size when the topic was about your rude attitude during brainstorming. Don’t pretend like you’re made of steel when you know you’ve made of cotton from the inside. Pretension isn’t going to be of any help in a situation like this. Putting up a front will only manifest you as someone who is too proud and arrogant to accept criticism from someone else.
If you’re still not convinced by what she had to say about you, then verify it from other people. Try to ask what they think. Here’s where it becomes critical: be careful whom you ask. It’s biased to ask from your closest friends or even your mother, don’t you think? Reach out to acquaintances with whom you aren’t that close. You don’t have to lay it all in front of them because you won’t probably get an honest result (sometimes they won’t slap you with the truth if they think you won’t be able to handle it).
Ask someone who’s frank and upfront but who isn’t rude for no particular reason. Ask someone you trust who’ll tell you what he/she feels. Don’t run away from the truth because you’re afraid. Once you finally immerse yourself with nothing but the truth, you’ll see true freedom — peace of mind. Maybe you are mean sometimes. Maybe you respect people based on the thickness of their wallets. Maybe you are inconsiderate, selfish. And the only way for you to see it is to break down your castle and see whom you’ve stepped on.
DON’T PASS ON THE NEGATIVITY
When somebody critics you and bruises your ego, don’t allow it to consume you wholly that the only way to relieve yourself of it is to pass it on to somebody else. You might pass it on to someone who is still yet to rebuild her self-esteem after a terrible past that crushed it. You might just ruin another person’s life. If you think that someone who criticized you was in no way a form of constructive criticism, then don’t allow it to hurt somebody else. Don’t think that people also need to hear their flaws just because it happened to you. For all you know, that confrontation happened for a reason.
See all sides, angles, and versions of the story. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t be an instrument of pessimism to others. You should be a symbol of hope to your fellow dreamers because that’s what we need right now. In the face of fear, we need to reminded of the opportunities that lie beyond that thick wall. If we only approach a problem in face value, then what is it worth to us?
TURN IT INTO A SENSE OF TRANSFORMATION
Whether you’re offended or willingly open about what she said to you and your work, make it an inspiration to do better. Don’t measure your worth according to someone’s opinion. If you think her opinion is wrong, then prove her wrong until there will come a time you won’t need to prove to her anything. Make her realize she was wrong for doubting you and making you feel small.
When you’re on the brink of giving up, remember those words of spite, those words of doubt. The fears they’re imposing on you are the keys to unleash the abilities you once thought weren’t there. Sometimes you have to break from inside out before you fly beyond horizons. Never expect growth to come to you when you’re comfortable. It’s the times when you feel like giving up that you realize how much you love what you’re doing right now.
REFLECT ON YOURSELF
Having reflected on your part and hers, continue what you’re doing. If it doesn’t affect you in any way, then don’t give it power. Be the bigger person. The first step to solving a problem is to acknowledge that there is a problem. If there’s none, then it’s her problem and not yours. As long as you’re not stepping on other people’s rights and you’re not hurting them in any way, keep doing what you’re doing. But this time, you have an incentive. This time, you know better.
This time, you know which decisions can benefit you and the people around you. This time, you know how to respond to other people’s requests without thinking any less of them. This time, you’re learning how to succeed in life without frowning on another’s misfortunes. This time, you’ve grown. This new, added perspective is often overlooked by many. Sometimes, when you’re too used to winning and getting your way all the time, humility starts to wither inside you. That’s why it’s essential to keep going back to the reasons you started and remembering that you’re still learning. People tend to overlook the value of added perspective, even if it’s not yours.
If you keep viewing the world according to your pair of the lens alone, you will never understand why people see the world as they are. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon your principles and values. But for you to help and send them a message, you have to know where they’re coming from and how their experiences have shaped them.
ADMIT YOUR FAULT AND DO YOUR PART
After that awkward yet enlightening conversation, take a deep breath, and take time to digest everything that’s been said and done. Don’t look for another way out to win the argument (if there is still is) but, rather, accept that you have flaws that are sometimes are so hard to believe. Sometimes no matter how much we think we know ourselves, we need somebody, friend or enemy, to tell us what they see in ourselves that we can’t.
At one point you may think that person is just jealous of you or she doesn’t like you very much, but that’s the thing about haters. We don’t seem to know why they do what they do. It could be they’re envious about what we have or what we have achieved, or it could be they see something in you that is true but you refuse to believe because your pride is up. Admit your fault. Say sorry if you have to. Apologize for the actions you missed or didn’t think was offensive to her. Change for the better. We have to.
“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People