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Five tips on coping with both destructive and constructive criticism

criticismCriticism is sometimes difficult to deal with. This is especially the case if you think it’s unjustified or harsh. There are always people who are more than happy to hand out their opinions and advice to you. Sometimes that’s positive and sometimes, unfortunately, it’s negative. Constructive criticism is useful in enabling you to improve yourself. However, destructive criticism is rarely of any use at all.

Receiving criticism can feel like a body-blow. It can demotivate you and even cause you to question your worth. Some people say you should just grow a thick skin and ignore negative comments. But criticism can cut you to the quick. Read our five tips on coping with both destructive and constructive criticism effectively.

Tip One – Know the difference between constructive and destructive criticism

This is the first step to take when you encounter criticism. You have to be clear on the intentions of the person criticising you. If the person is a trainer, teacher or superior at work, the chances are that the criticism is intended to help you improve. This is constructive criticism.ย  If the criticism is from a peer or other associate, listen carefully to what’s being said. It could still be that the criticism is intended to help you. But criticism that doesn’t include an element of suggestion for improvement is rarely helpful and is usually of the destructive type.

For example, โ€œThis report isn’t good enough.โ€ This is destructive as it involves no element of suggestion for improvement.

โ€œThis report needs some more work. How about researching some further avenues that demonstrate the findings?โ€ This is constructive criticism in that it includes a suggestion for improvement.

Tip Two –ย Dealing with constructive criticism

If you identify the criticism as constructive, take on board what is said and do your best to swallow your pride. There is always room for improvement. Use the criticism as useful feedback. Take on board the comments and consider the suggested improvements.

Tip Three –ย Dealing with destructive criticism

If you identify the criticism as destructive, firstly, don’t react with anger. Some people seem to thrive on causing a negative reaction in others. If you react strongly, you’re playing into their hands in some respects. Destructive criticism is sometimes just thoughtlessness. But it can also be deliberately malicious or caused by jealousy. Remember, constructive criticism is intended to help you, whereas destructive criticism is intended to harm you.

The best way to deal with destructive criticism is to remain calm. If you feel your anger rising, it’s best to just walk away. Treat the other person with respect and demonstrate that you are the stronger person. Acknowledge the comment without succumbing to the temptation to counter-criticise.

Tip Four –ย Investigate the cause of continual destructive criticism

If someone keeps being overly critical of you in a destructive way, it may be a good idea to politely ask them why they feel the need to do so. Use this type of situation as an opportunity to work on your inter-personal skills. People rarely like being challenged. Look on your discussion as a way of finding out if this person has issues with their own abilities or performance that are causing them to act this way.ย 

Tip Five –ย Onwards and upwards

Everyone encounters criticism at some point – both constructive criticism and it’s unhelpful counterpart! It’s easy to feel demotivated or stressed if you’re criticised. It’s important you remind yourself of your worth and achievements. Ask a colleague or trusted friend for their opinion if you’re unsure the criticism is warranted.

Try to look on criticism as a window into how other people perceive you. It can often give you valuable insight.

You’re doing a great job! Feel good about your skills and use any constructive criticism to make necessary improvements.

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