No one likes to be criticized.
Dale Carnegie, when giving advice on how to influence people and win friends, tells his readers that there is never a good time to criticize. As you may have already concluded, not everyone agrees with Dale.
I never liked criticism. It always triggered an automatic reaction in me that I didn't like. I would feel my heart beating faster and I immediately wanted to explain to or refute the critic. It wasn't until I realized what criticism really was or actually what it wasn't that I was able to control my emotions and stay calm in the face of even the most scathing criticisms.
Criticism is a judgment about something I did. The reason I was reacting negatively was because I perceived it as a judgment about who I am. Since I felt my self-worth was being attacked, I naturally went into a defensive stance to protect it and that was my mistake.
I now realize that:
Only I can decide my self-worth
Self-worth is the value I place upon myself. I have not fundamentally changed just because I made a mistake and therefore
Criticism does NOT reflect who I am.
The great thing is that even if someone has the intention to attack you personally to try to lower your self-worth, they can't because your self-worth and esteem is controlled only by you. Having this knowledge has really changed the way I handle criticism, constructive or destructive.
Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.