If you’ve ever struggled with criticisms and have found that you feel disheartened, dejected, lost, troubled, agitated, angry, bugged, jealous, even anxious, or have started doubting yourself… then my friend, this post is for you.
Before we head on the juicy stuff, I’ll specify what do I mean by the term “pro.” I’ll borrow the explanation, which Steven Pressfield uses in his books, War of Art and Turning Pro. He uses the word pro as an indicative of ‘a professional.’ When we are a professional, we are ready to leave the amateurish behavior behind us, i.e. we’re ready to deal with every situation in a way as though it pays us forward. And there is no scope for mediocrity, in our pursuit. We are ready to acknowledge the fact that we’re the best at what we pursue, in any sphere of life, which is why we’d hire ourselves to do the job we wanna do. And give it all that we can.
When we are pros, we understand that criticisms are simply comments that we may, or may not, consider. It depends upon the source or even the context. We know that external criticisms are primarily a reflection of that person’s thoughts or inner being. Instead of dwelling on someone’s disapproval, or condemnation, or evaluation, or eve jealousy, we need to truly evaluate how are we dealing with the situation? We know it that the only thing we can change or modify is our thoughts, reaction and action, in any given situation.
Imagine yourself at work, someone didn’t appreciate your hard work, criticized it. Now, what do you? Do you stop coming to work? Well, an amateur would. But if you are a pro, you’d know that you can’t care too much about those criticisms (perhaps some maybe naysayers). You listen to each one; see if there is any underlying message; check if there is any truth in the situation, can you constructively work on something?; If there isn’t any genuineness in the comment then, you need to ignore the damn thing and move on with your life. Or if you truly care about something, you politely yet firmly rebut your case. In any situation, you manage the situation, gracefully. Well, this applies at work and in real life as well.
If you find yourself in a situation where someone criticizes you, as a person (physical or emotional or spiritual space), or comments on your work, then here are four golden rules to go by:
- Evaluate the feedback in real-time and post-event: Now, this takes a lot of practice. We can strengthen our mind to not let opinions of others affect us too much. It is possible to turn the situation in our favor. I’ll give you an example: A year back, my Zumba instructor in the gym, would laugh at me because I was a fat girl who danced with two left feet. He would laugh at me in front of the entire class and point fingers as well. Once or twice it felt bad because he wouldn’t see the hard work and consistency I’m putting into my dance, while smiling all the way. Instead he chose to focus on the negatives. Thankfully, in that moment I realized that it was not my problem, it was his stupidity, so I didn’t expend too much energy on it. I looked at the situation later and realized I can’t waste my time thinking about it. One year down, he is the same guy coming to me for tips for reducing weight now because I completely transformed myself. From a size 20, I came down to a size 6. I would’ve loved it, if that instructor had the brains to understand and motivate others to perform. Perhaps then he wouldn’t have laughed or ridiculed. However, that form of criticism in my Zumba class strengthened my mind to keep my eye on the price, more than ever. So it was important to evaluate the feedback in real time and even later to make the best judgement for my well-being.
- Evaluate your actions and reactions: Now, I could’ve gotten offended in that zumba situation, but according to Steven Pressfield that is not what Pro’s do. I could’ve stepped out of the class or stopped going to the sessions, instead I kept on doing my thing and did it for MYSELF. I shifted my focus from the immediate negative reaction into positive action for my own good. If someone criticizes our work, we take it. As Pro’s we say thank you, in that very moment. And then, we keep doing the work (whether for personal or work life) the way we’re meant to.
- Give a damn and work on your calm: I cannot emphasize hard enough on the fact that we cannot have control over another person’s comments. However, we can control our own reactions when faced with criticisms. If we’re getting affected by someone’s crude comments or remarks, we need to internalize our own thoughts to understand which pain points is it touching. So, how do we turn pro to be the change we want to be? When someone criticizes us, we must calmly acknowledge it. If we know that the feedback won’t affect us too deeply, and isn’t coming from a genuine source, then we can discard it. If the source is genuine, we may know of a better way to respond nicely yet calmly.
- Don’t take it personally, even if it may be directed so: Well, of course, having a good sense of humor in these situations always helps. It starts with not taking the comments too personally. Sometimes, I’m faced with criticisms from my own family members, but do I need to care too much, only if I think it would be constructive and good for my holistic well-being. In most situations the criticisms aren’t constructive and come from a not-so-genuine sources, and those can be easily ignored and avoided in the first place. Do we really want to expend our energies on to something that isn’t authentic? But in situations where people provide us with genuine feedback, it would never seem as criticism and it would always be stated effectively. And it will be appreciated. The key lies in not letting people mess with your brains, and the only way to do that is through strengthening your own mind, starts with telling yourself, it isn’t personal.
Now, I’d love to hear from you: How do you deal with criticisms? Do you manage it well? Put it down in the comments below and let me know.