Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Masters of Counselling & Psychotherapy UofA
Member of the ACA College of Supervisors
Level 3 Member Australian Counselling Association
The only criticism that is of value is constructive criticism. Criticism designed to help us grow into the best me that we can be.
Whether the criticism comes from ourselves or from others, if the intention is to hurt or embarrass, then it is destructive and of no value at all.
Constructive criticism focuses on the mistake not the whole person. The behavior is the problem, not the person, and that gives us the opportunity to change the behavior.
If you have been the target of destructive criticism, over time you probably have developed some non-assertive ways to handle criticism.
Do you respond to criticism in the following ways?
• Become confused
• Get defensive
• Start acting silly
• Become angry
• Start blaming
• Run away
• Stew over it
• Ignore it while you are hurting like crazy inside
Do you believe the following?
• If I’m criticized it means I’m stupid.
• They don’t like me anymore if they criticize me.
• They are right. I am wrong. I am a total loser.
• If I criticize them they won't like me anymore.
• How dare they tell me I am wrong. Who gave them the right?
• Perhaps I will get them to forgot that I’m not perfect by distracting them with a joke about me.
Unsplash, Jonatan Pie
Passive responses to criticism
• Agrees with …. ‘Yes you are right , I am useless’ as we take the rejection of our behavior as a rejection of ourselves.
• Makes a big joke out of it, if I criticize myself more no one will know that I am really hurt.
Aggressive responses to criticism
• We know the criticism is a personal attack, we get defensive and then go for the jugular. It is about winning not connecting.
‘How dare you. I’m not late. You are the one that’s always late
The best response is one which is assertive of course!
You can tell the difference between destructive and constructive criticism and choose the appropriate response.
It is possible to separate the criticism regarding our behavior from our value as a person, accepting the criticism without negative emotions. There is no blaming, anger, running away or feeling hurt.
Acceptance of your mistakes and knowing that they don't lessen your value as a person and choosing to learn from the experience is an appropriate response to criticism.
Also knowing you have the right to let people know if they have hurt, irritated or upset you.
Giving direct feedback can be loving and helpful, if delivered with the right tone and intention.