We live in a harsh and judgmental world where people are quick to point out the faults and imperfections of others yet seem oblivious to their own. Some misguided souls believe they have a moral obligation and civil duty to help you to be a better person by telling you what a failure you really are first and then offering suggestions as to how you can improve. They are so brazen as to cleverly present negative comments under the guise of being constructive. But constructive criticism is an oxymoron designed to impose shame, embarrassment or humiliation on the other party without the repercussions of the purveyor being labeled mean-spirited or rude. Some are quick to criticize as a way of taking the focus off of their own shortcomings in an attempt to make themselves appear better, smarter or more qualified than the other. And while some may actually believe in their hearts that they are performing a noble act, their methods are skewed and faulty. Denigrate first, rebuilt second. If one's true intent is to offer suggestions for betterment, why not skip the annihilation phase and move straight into the supportive role?
So what is the solution to criticism? As always, one must first examine their own behavior as all change begins within. If you are the one imposing disparagement upon another, STOP. Make a conscious decision that rather than focus on the negative aspect of a person's performance or attitudes, you'll offer helpful suggestions from the get go. If I'm painting our living room and making a mess in doing so, I'm much rather my husband say to me, "This is a tough job. Can I offer a suggestion that might make it easier for you?" rather than having him point out what a sloppy painter I am and then tell me how I should be doing it.
If you are on the receiving end of criticism, the "OK" response is a perfect solution. When someone comments negatively on a task you are embarking on or a personality issue, a natural response is to defend and attack. We seek to justify our actions and/or prove ourselves right while demoting the other party so as to restore balance in the relationship . However, this approach is rarely effective as it is ego-driven and puts both parties on the defensive. Instead, simply reply with "OK". This concise one-word response acknowledges the other person's comment without agreeing with it or feeling compelled to engage in a debate about it. Additionally, there is no need to defend one's self or actions, to make excuses for or to attack the criticizer. It diffuses a potentially explosive situation and the fallout.
It is important to remain emotionally attached to what the other person is saying, to listen without feeling, to be an objective observer. There is much that one can learn from a negative review. When we train ourselves to seek value in every situation and seemingly negative comment we stand to walk away from such an encounter a wiser and more enlightened being. Did I make a mistake, was I at fault? Could I have done better, acted kinder, been more thoughtful? Did I give 100% of myself to the task at hand? Is there any validity to what the other person has observed in me? If so, how can I improve? Within each of these questions there lies the potential for personal growth and improvement.
As for chronic criticizers: it is important to set strict boundaries with them. Do not permit them to manipulate or intimidate you. Be fair and firm and remove yourself from their presence when necessary.
In any event, one can learn to be "OK" with criticism and not allow it to negatively impact their life or relationship with the other party. Examine it for any potential truths, then let it go and just be "OK".
Luke 6:37 "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned."
Luke 6:41 "Why do you notice the sawdust in your brother's eye but not the plank in your own?"
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Janet Pfeiffer, international inspirational speaker and award-winning author has appeared on CNN, Lifetime, ABC News, The 700 Club, NBC News, Fox News, The Harvest Show, Celebration, TruTV and many others. She’s been a guest on over 100 top radio shows (including Fox News Radio), is a contributor to Ebru Today TV and hosts her own radio show, Anger 911, on www.Anger911.net and Between You and God (iHeartRadio.com).
Janet's spoken at the United Nations, Notre Dame University, was a keynote speaker for the YWCA National Week Without Violence Campaign, and is a past board member for the World Addiction Foundation.
She's a former columnist for the Daily Record and contributing writer to Woman’s World Magazine, Living Solo, Prime Woman Magazine, and N.J. Family. Her name has appeared in print more than 100 million times, including The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Alaska Business Monthly and more than 50 other publications.
A consultant to corporations including AT&T, U.S. Army, U.S. Postal Service, and Hoffman-LaRoche, Janet is N.J. State certified in domestic violence, an instructor at a battered women's shelter, and founder of The Antidote to Anger Group. She specializes in healing anger and conflict and creating inner peace and writes a weekly blog and bi-monthly newsletter.
Janet has authored 8 books, including the highly acclaimed The Secret Side of Anger (endorsed by NY Times bestselling author, Dr. Bernie Siegel).
Read what Marci Shimoff, New York Times bestselling author, says of Janet's latest book, The Great Truth; Shattering Life's Most Insidious Lies That Sabotage Your Happiness Along With the Revelation of Life's Sole Purpose:
"Janet dispels the lies and misconceptions many people have lived by and outlines a practical path to an extraordinary life beyond suffering. Written with honesty, clarity, sincerity, and humor, this book serves as a wonderful guide for anyone seeking a more enriching and fulfilling life.”
Dr. Bernie Siegel says, "All books of wisdom are meant to be read more than once. The Great Truth is one such book."