How to Face and Address Painful Criticism

Producing something of value to many, naturally elicits comments from a select few.

The numbers increase as the population you reach grows. Some people will be praiseful, and others will critique. Some critics, understand which aspects of your output they should critique and which ones they shouldn’t.

Malicious critics though, will select aspects about your output to critique which may be personal and hurtful. They’ll attack you under the guise of attacking your work. They’ll use your outputs into the world to draw conclusions on who you are as an individual.

This article is about turning the hateful critiques of others into something you can use to improve yourself.

If you’re serious about seeking success in any chosen domain, then you’ll need to master being a receiver of critiques. You’ll be hated by some, and adored by others. Below, are suggestions on how you can limit how effectively hateful critics stunt your growth.

 


Methods of Delivery Warrant No Reaction


All critiques hurt just a little bit. The pain they deliver varies depending on their subject matter and how right those critiques are.

Recommended Book: The Psychology of Persuasion.

A particularly painful type of critique is one which is right in what it critiques, but goes on to use that information to attack you personally.

For instance, if the grammar in this article needs some work, an average critic would point out the mistakes and suggest ways to improve. A malicious critic, would point out the mistakes and use them to deliberately cause pain. They’d mention that, “The author of this article needs to go back to second grade,” in an effort to use a weakness as a weapon.

Critiques which are completely fabricated tend not to be painful. Even if they go on to attack you personally for something they’ve fabricated out of thin air, they wouldn’t be very successful in delivering damage. As receivers of criticism, we’re sensitive to truth. The painful criticisms are often true. They force us to face our weaknesses, and to either grow past them or be defined by them.

Truth which is used maliciously is the most painful, and sometimes the most hateful. Possessing a legitimate critique about someone places you over them. You wield the power to discredit something they’ve done with truth. Critics become attracted to making a bigger impact than simply stating the truth, and some of them will opt to deliver that truth in as painful of a way as possible. It shows a lack of discipline on the critics part, and a thirst for coming out on top.

When facing criticisms which wrap a hint of truth into a weaponized package for delivery, practice first looking at where that hint of truth is. No matter how hateful a critique, know what the root cause behind its hateful package is.

Ignore hateful methodologies used to deliver that critique. Be unattached to their methods of delivery. Analyze what about the package they delivered was a hateful dig at you, and which part would is an objectively legitimate critique.

It takes a lot of discipline to be honest with which part of a particular hateful criticism is warranted as the lines between warranted and malicious will sometimes be blurred. Try your best to not be reactionary to someone’s painful digs directed toward you. View their attempts to package truth in a hateful manner as an expression of a lack of discipline.


Address the Truth


Once you recognize what the causal truth was behind someone’s bashful delivery of a critique, begin to address it. View this portion of the process as, “Cutting the head off the snake.”

Any hint of truth behind someone’s hateful critique is the driving force of the whole package they’ve sent your way. Without truth, their critique is baseless (more on that below). It’s thereby critical that you begin to address the truth after you ignore the bashful methodology used to deliver it.

Addressing the truth, for the most part, involves acknowledging its truthfulness, and making an attempt to improve based only on that truth. Since you’ve established it to be the truth, the only thing left to do is to let others know that you’re aware of this truth, and that you’ll be improving yourself based on that truth.

If you’ve analyzed the bashful critique correctly, there would be nothing left for your critics to say. Since their hateful criticism was predicated on this truthful portion, your acknowledgment of them being correct on that specific portion of their critique would serve to rob their subsequent hateful methods of their power. They’d be seen as simple bullies if they go on to continue bashing you for something you’ve acknowledged to be true.

Limiting incrimination on your part is an important piece of dealing with these people effectively. They’d be in a ramped-up state whilst delivering bashfulness, and will almost expect an altercation. They’d be caught off guard by your lack of reaction to their hateful method of delivering what perhaps is a little bit of truth. No matter what their reaction turns out to be, limit yours down to only abiding by what is factual about their brash statements. Be calm, address any truths, and don’t react to the way that truth is packaged.

 

Recommended Book: The Psychology of Persuasion.

Knowing When a Criticism Is Baseless


Your gut will play a large part in determining whether a criticism you hear is valid. Criticisms are baseless when you don’t feel a need to defend yourself against them.  The more you feel a need to defend against a critique, the more valid it will seem to be.

Be careful in taking a strong stance against criticism you are desperate to defend. As an intelligent individual, you feeling a need to defend yourself against criticism gives it validity by the mere fact that your intelligent efforts are focused on it.

When in the act of defending, something tells you that the criticisms you choose to defend are dangerous to your image, and thereby may in fact be believable enough to be true.

A simple trick in attempting to determine whether a criticism is invalid is to imagine saying it to yourself in front of a mirror. Our most honest critiques come from ourselves. Let go of the image of anyone expressing the criticism in question other than yourself. Imagine criticizing yourself, and truly attempt to believe the criticism in question to be true and valid. Do you feel a deep desire to change your behavior based on that feedback from yourself? Does it compare to a time you vehemently criticized yourself?

Recommended Book: The Psychology of Persuasion.

Now place yourself in the shoes of the person who expressed that same critique. Would you say the same thing to someone else who acted like you did in the specified situation? In other words, would you ever find yourself being the source of the criticism you’ve found yourself a receiver of?

The questions above will help you determine whether to perceive the criticism to be valid. It all, of course, depends on the specifics of your situation. Factors like envy, competition, trustworthiness, and reliability are dependent on the person the critique in question came from. The general theme however, is to be sympathetic with the ones who criticize you by thoroughly placing yourself in their shoes.

 


Defending Against Baseless Criticisms Validates Them


A baseless criticism is born via forces other than well founded observations or fact. Envy may be involved, self loathing on the critic’s part may be involved, and misconceptions can steer the perceptions of those who criticize you.

Determining whether a criticism is baseless is tough work, we are inherently biased to favor the righteousness of the actions we commit and the words we say. This article will not teach you how to become open minded in your reception of criticism or how to audit your past behavior in an unbiased way. Know that these traits are needed in order to properly improve yourself in this life.

Do not hold onto the perceived validity of your past actions and words with a grip of death. Be open to new information and to changing the way you think and act. Accept criticisms with that frame of mind, and then focus on determining whether criticism against you is valid or not.

This does not mean that merely choosing to defend yourself against critiques makes them true, but you should at least question the reasons behind your act of defending against the criticisms that you hear.

Would you defend yourself against someone saying you weren’t raised correctly by your parents? How about if someone mentioned just how rude you were to the server at the bar the other night?

The act of defending against someone’s assumption that you weren’t raised right by your parents gives a baseless criticism validity. You’d show yourself to be challenged by such a critique if you were to defend against it, and would perceive it to be legitimately hurtful to yourself worth.

However, your distinct actions toward a server may indeed need an reevaluation and the critique may have been legitimate.

If you find any ounce of truth behind that critique, you’ll be faced with two options: to either defend yourself against that effective truth, or to admit your wrongdoing. Naturally, admitting wrongdoing is more difficult than defending. Be careful if you elect to defend against truthful critiques, the very act of doing so hints that you feel threatened by truth criticisms may carry.

 


Baseless Criticisms Spread the More You Try to Itch


Baseless criticisms are like mosquito bites which itch more with every scratch.

When you determine a criticism to be baseless, it is best to let it itch until it fails to entice your act of scratching it. You can have fun with it, and even jokingly agree, but do not take a serious stance against it. Allow your behavior to prove the ones who abide by that criticism to be wrong.

If a criticism is labeled baseless, then it is by default harmless. Baseless criticisms are tough itches to not scratch. We feel as if they are easy to disprove, and we fear of their spreading (sometimes even more than valid criticisms). Baseless criticisms are often simple in their structure, and seem to easily spread by word of mouth.

Do not ignore baseless criticisms, but do now acknowledge them with your utmost level of seriousness. The line is somewhere in between for criticisms that appear to be guided by a mix of ignorance and emotion. The term cradle comes to mind, or a guidance towards their death. Acknowledge baseless criticisms, clearly state why they are wrong in the most unemotional way you can manage, and leave them to die. You can play with them, but at no cost should you look at them as you would at a vicious canine on the loose. They are not a threat, a fact which you should consistently repeat to yourself.


Optional: Calling Out Aspects of Their Criticism Which Were Designed to Deliver Pain


If you decide to further the dialogue between yourself and the people who’ve chosen to hatefully critique you, you can elect to take a step further to discredit their hateful critique. Once you’ve addressed any truth that their critique contained, you would have the opportunity to call them out on the package they wrapped their critique in. Especially if there is an audience experiencing the back and forth, calling out the needlessly malicious aspects of their critique would do well to paint the critic in a bad light.

As you’d have acknowledged the truth behind their criticism, the only thing that would be left to address (if you choose to) would be the methodology they used to deliver that critique. It’s advised that you do not react to their methodology, but simply describe it for those watching to understand. Describing their malicious methodology can be used to paint a truer picture of the critic’s intentions. It can motivate them to be less bashful in their future criticisms, and it can dispel any myths they sought to propagate against you. Remember, a reaction and an address are different acts. If you choose to expose malicious critics in their ways, address the methodology they used after you admit to there being some root truth to their critique. Do not react in emotional, malicious, or uncontrolled ways yourself. Assume the role of an observing educator in this optional phase of the process.


Read our analyses of current events by becoming a Patron.

Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims in any way.