Embrace Possibility How to Stay Calm in the Face of Criticism
/How to Stay Calm in the Face of Criticism

How to Stay Calm in the Face of Criticism

Imagine criticism like this

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

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.

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17 Comments

  1. […] For the most part, if you truly believe you can do anything you want and you don’t let criticism or other people’s opinions bother you, I would say you have a high level of self-esteem. If you still get shaken when other people criticize you, click here to learn how you can stay calm in the face of criticism. […]

    • mark August 6, 2012 at 9:30 pm - Reply

      I do appreciate that perspective. Very helpful to think about criticism in a work context as something I did, not who I am.

      • Robert Chen August 6, 2012 at 10:58 pm - Reply

        Hi Mark,

        Thank you for reading and I’m glad you found the article helpful. Criticism in any context is always a reflection of what you did and not who you are. Only you can define your self worth.

  2. 30 Qualities of Highly Successful People • Embrace Possibility Blog April 14, 2012 at 12:55 am - Reply

    […] successes and overcoming your fear of failure. Signs of confidence include empowering others, not taking criticism personally, and understanding that the first time you do something is always the hardest and all subsequent […]

  3. […] When using this method, NEVER be defensive or make excuses. Don’t challenge the score or try to explain. If you do, the other person, will no longer want to answer your question or end up giving you fake scores. Just accept the specific feedback and focus on what you can do to improve your score. If you are having trouble, check out how to stay calm in the face of criticism. […]

  4. […] feedback and focus on what you can do to improve your score. If you are having trouble, check out how to stay calm in the face of criticism.2. Pay AttentionWe all know the golden rule:“Do unto others as you would have them do unto […]

  5. […] 多数情况下,如果你内心坚信自己能做成任何想做的事,并且能不被别人的批评或意见所左右,可以说你已经拥有了高度的自信。如果你为因为他人的批评而心烦意乱。请点击这里来了解如何在面对批判时保持镇定:http://www.embracepossibility.com/blog/how-to-stay-calm-in-the-face-of-criticism/。 […]

  6. » 自信过低的七大警钟 August 17, 2012 at 10:31 am - Reply

    […] 多数情况下,如果你内心坚信自己能做成任何想做的事,并且能不被别人的批评或意见所左右,可以说你已经拥有了高度的自信。如果你为因为他人的批评而心烦意乱。请点击这里来了解如何在面对批判时保持镇定:http://www.embracepossibility.com/blog/how-to-stay-calm-in-the-face-of-criticism/。 […]

  7. M May 11, 2013 at 8:43 am - Reply

    How true. Criticism hurts much deeper when I let it cut into my identity. I still love the Message version of Isaiah 51:7-8, especially for situations where the criticism is meant to be insulting and destructive.

    “Listen now, you who know right from wrong,
    you who hold my teaching inside you:
    Pay no attention to insults, and when mocked
    don’t let it get you down.
    Those insults and mockeries are moth-eaten,
    from brains that are termite-ridden,
    But my setting-things-right lasts,
    my salvation goes on and on and on.”

    The “those insults and mockeries are moth-eaten from brains that are termite-ridden” part makes me smile a little.

    • Robert Chen May 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing that M. No one can ever change your identity if you don’t let them.

  8. Mrigna Kashyap May 9, 2014 at 8:41 am - Reply

    Sir,I can now feel a strong determination in me to stand scathing
    criticism under any situation.This is absolutely, we should react back in action and not verbally.Our action would prove our self- worth.I feel giving an ear to such remarks highlights our ego.Criticism to something negative is warmly welcomed though.Criticism of someone vividly shows how negative mindedness and jealousy the other person’s mind is filled with.
    Thank you.

    • Robert Chen May 18, 2014 at 2:50 am - Reply

      Thanks for sharing Mrigna. You’re right – criticism can sometimes be a reflection of the other person’s state of mind. No matter what the intention, how we deal with criticism is our choice to make.

  9. Danilo Noble February 21, 2015 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    I’d like to find out more? I’d care to find out some additional information.

    • Robert Chen February 22, 2015 at 1:10 am - Reply

      Feel free to contact me for more information at robertchen.com

  10. 30 Qualities that Make Ordinary People Extraordinary – JFDCi July 14, 2016 at 3:54 am - Reply

    […] successes and overcoming your fear of failure. Signs of confidence include empowering others, not taking criticism personally, and understanding that the first time you do something is always the hardest and all […]

  11. Late-Bloomer February 7, 2017 at 12:38 am - Reply

    Thank you for this article. My question then is this: so instead of reacting defensively to real or perceived criticism what is the best way to respond? I really struggle with this.

    • Robert Chen February 7, 2017 at 7:30 am - Reply

      I recommend just saying “thank you” and then you can privately decide what to do with the feedback. There is usually very little that you gain from being defensive.

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