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5 Ways to Keep Your Cool when Dealing with Criticism

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/21/2006 | Jobs and Careers
No matter how tough you appear on the outside, dealing with criticism is hard. If youre the victim of a harsh critique, whether justified or not, here are five ways to keep your cool and diffuse what could spiral into a heated situation!

1. One of the toughest kinds of criticisms to handle is an unjust accusation. Even though its tempting, dont stage a comeback with equally defensive, biting or embarrassing personal remarks. The accuser may have just been misinformed. Instead, ask the criticizer questions and probe into their comments. Often, there is some underlying cause for their accusation. If its truly unjust, youll be able to mend the problem and state the facts right there on the spot.

2. If you immediately assume the defense, your critic will feel as if their message just hit a brick wall, and theyll keep trying to insist and focus on the problem. By listening constructively, youll indicate that youve heard their criticism and that you intend to follow up on the problem. Even better, ask the critic what THEY would do differently if they were in your situation. Chances are, youll get a lot of feedback and perhaps some solid ideas and suggestions as well.

3. If the discussion becomes heated, lower your voice for every level your critic raises theirs. This shows not only that youre calm and collected (even if your blood is boiling underneath), but puts the spotlight on the other person, embarrassing them to some degree because they were unable to maintain a reasonable tone and temper.

4. Show that youre more interested in solving the problem than arguing for your point of view. Sometimes, an honest critique can be a delicate way of informing you of a particular problem that no one else notices or wants to share. Dont be too quick to defend yourself or judge your accuser, and take the complaints and suggestions in stride. Chances are, it will give you some insights into improvements you can make that you ordinarily may have overlooked or not even considered.

5. If the issues begin to get out of hand, and you feel yourself starting to lose your cool, take a deep breath to gather your thoughts and ask your accuser for specific details and points that led them to bring this item to your attention. You may uncover the heart of the real matter and the real reason for their biting remarks, and it may even be something totally unrelated to the matter at hand!

Remember though, you cant please all the people all the time. Some people are simply never satisfied. Overlook these shortsighted individuals and know deep down that you are making positive progress despite their attempts to drag you down. When you know that youve done your best, the bitter pill of criticism will feel more like a hearty dose of good medicine, and that makes all kinds of criticism easier to take.