7 Ways To Bend, Not Break

In­stead of crum­bling un­der crit­i­cism, ex­perts share how to deal with neg­a­tive feed­back in a pro­duc­tive man­ner

Singapore Women's Weekly (Singapore) - - INSPIRE -

1 Re­spond calmly

Use a sim­ple re­sponse to ac­knowl­edge you have heard their opin­ion. Try, “Thank you for the feed­back. I’ll take that on board”, or “Okay, I’ll con­sider that”. If you have an emo­tional, heart-thump­ing re­ac­tion to what’s been said, your brain has gone into “fight or flight” mode. Don’t re­spond while you’re in this primed state. “Take a few min­utes out, feel your feet on the ground, and breathe slowly and deeply un­til you feel more calm,” says well­ness coach Tr­ish Everett. “When you breathe in a re­laxed way, your heart rate and stress re­sponse will come down so you can re-en­gage your ra­tio­nal brain be­fore you re­spond.”

2 Don’t take it per­son­ally

Whether the crit­i­cism is con­struc­tive or just rude, don’t take it as a per­sonal af­front. “It’s par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant in a pro­fes­sional set­ting to be able to re­ceive crit­i­cism or feed­back about your work with­out tak­ing it per­son­ally,” says psy­chol­o­gist El­iz­a­beth Neal. Cre­ate some dis­tance be­tween you and the is­sue by look­ing at the crit­i­cism from an ob­jec­tive stand­point. Look at the con­text and who’s the one de­liv­er­ing the crit­i­cism. Is it com­ing from a se­nior per­son at work? If so, is it sim­ply le­git­i­mate feed­back about your per­for­mance? Is it pre­dictable neg­a­tiv­ity from a nit-picker? If this is the case, it’s prob­a­bly less about you not be­ing good enough and more about them feel­ing in­ad­e­quate or en­vi­ous and try­ing to bring you down.

3 Know your in­se­cu­ri­ties

Crit­i­cal com­ments can ac­ti­vate a deeply-held neg­a­tive be­lief we have about our­selves, like “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not wanted”. By be­com­ing fa­mil­iar with the in­ner story you have about your­self, you’ll know that when you’re trig­gered by a crit­i­cal com­ment, you might be over­re­act­ing be­cause it’s ac­ti­vated your painful core be­lief. “Your re­ac­tion to crit­i­cism de­pends on how sen­si­tive that par­tic­u­lar is­sue is for you,” says Ser­ena Bai­ley, a life coach spe­cial­is­ing in bound­ary set­ting.

4 Find the hid­den gem

Put aside your re­ac­tion to look at what you can learn from this sit­u­a­tion. “Be brave and ask your­self if there’s any­thing in what they’re say­ing that you can take on board,” sug­gests mind­set coach Alyce Pil­grim. “Look at your re­ac­tion to see what this sit­u­a­tion might be push­ing you to learn. Ask your­self, ‘If this sit­u­a­tion is hap­pen­ing to serve as an op­por­tu­nity for my learn­ing and growth, what would that learn­ing be?’ Per­haps it’s telling you that you need to de­velop re­silience or calm­ness in the face of oth­ers’ drama, or to learn to stand up for your­self or take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the be­hav­iours you have that in­vite crit­i­cism.”


Think about it dif­fer­ently

If you’re re­ally sen­si­tive and any crit­i­cism – con­struc­tive or not – pushes your but­tons, re­nam­ing it to “feed­back” can help. This process, known as re­fram­ing, puts a dif­fer­ent slant on some­thing, en­abling you to see it in a more pos­i­tive light. “The word ‘crit­i­cism’ can have neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions, so by view­ing it as feed­back you can change your per­cep­tion of it im­me­di­ately,” life coach Ser­ena says. “This al­lows you to take a step back from it emo­tion­ally which gives you more abil­ity to choose how you re­spond.”

6 Go to the source

Have a con­ver­sa­tion with the per­son who has crit­i­cised you. “It’s im­por­tant to ad­dress it with cu­rios­ity, and not ac­cu­sa­tion,” says Ser­ena. “Try to get to the bot­tom of their crit­i­cism by hav­ing an adult con­ver­sa­tion with them about it – one that’s re­spect­ful to both of you,” she sug­gests. “Fo­cus on what’s go­ing on for you rather than try­ing to lay blame, and state what you need. For ex­am­ple, try say­ing, ‘I’m feel­ing con­fused about what the is­sue might be here and would love it if we could talk more about it so I can bet­ter un­der­stand where you are com­ing from.’”

7 Strengthen your bound­aries

If you’re reg­u­larly brought down by crit­i­cism, work­ing with a coun­sel­lor or psy­chol­o­gist to boost your self-es­teem and bound­aries may help. Try lim­it­ing the time you spend with the per­son who of­ten crit­i­cises you so you can have more con­trol over the in­ter­ac­tion.

“If it’s some­one you re­ally can’t avoid, try be­ing more mat­ter-of-fact with them, or with­draw your need for their friend­ship or ap­proval,” ad­vises psy­chol­o­gist El­iz­a­beth.

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