Taking Control of Criticism

By Roz Jones

No one likes to be criticized. As a caregiver, it doesn’t feel good to have our mistakes pointed out or to be told that we’re not good enough. It’s human nature to want to be liked and accepted. So, when we receive criticism from the person we are taking care of or family members, it can feel like a personal attack. Whether the criticism is valid or not, it can still hurt our feelings and cause us stress. Criticism can hurt, but it doesn’t have to define us. In fact, criticism can be a helpful tool for our caregiver journey if we know how to handle it in the right way. As caregivers, we need to learn how to handle criticism in a constructive way. Here are some tips:

4 Tips for Handling Criticism Constructively

1. Don’t Take it Personally

It’s important to remember that criticism is not a reflection of who we are as people. Just because someone criticizes us doesn’t mean they don’t like us or think we’re valuable. Instead of taking criticism personally, try to see it as an opportunity for growth. If we can detach ourselves from our ego and view criticism objectively, it will be much easier to handle.

2. Listen to the Criticism

The first step in handling criticism is to actually listen to what the other person is saying. It can be easy to get defensive and tune out when we feel like we’re being attacked, but if we take a step back and really listen, we might find that there’s some truth to what the other person is saying. After all, they wouldn’t bother pointing out our flaws unless they thought we had the potential to improve. So, the next time you’re feeling defensive, try to listen to the criticism and see if there’s anything you can learn from it.

3. Respond calmly and rationally

When we’re feeling attacked, it’s tempting to lash out and say something that we’ll later regret. But responding calmly and rationally is always the best course of action. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with the person who’s critiquing you—in fact, you may even want to disagree with them—but it’s important to do so in a respectful way. By responding in a calm and rational manner, you’ll show that you’re capable of handling criticism maturely and without getting defensive.  For example, you might say something like, “I can see why you might feel that way.” or “I appreciate your input.”  

4. Use Criticism as Motivation

Finally, remember that criticism can be used as motivation to improve ourselves. If someone points out a flaw that we weren’t aware of, we now have the opportunity to work on fixing it. And even if the criticism wasn’t accurate or constructive, we can use it as motivation to prove the critic wrong by becoming even better than before. So instead of letting criticism bring us down, let’s use it as fuel to propel us forward on our journey toward success. 

Learning how to handle criticism constructively is an important skill for caregivers. The next time someone criticizes you, try following these tips: defuse the situation by taking a step back, listening to what the other person is saying, and responding calmly and honestly. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to manage conflict in a constructive way.

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