“Everyone’s a Critic”

Criticism and Coping with Life in Lockdown

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Most of us don’t like being criticised.

Our common responses include throwing up our defences, attacking back, or crumpling in a mental heap!

Forced, as many of us currently are, to live and work, closeted 24/7 with partners, children, in-laws or flat mates,
I am willing to bet that none of us can escape the immortal line: “I wouldn’t do it like that…”, or worse.

Sometime ago, I made a decision that resulted in some friends being quite critical of my actions, and, strange as it may seem, I love them all the more. Here are some reasons why:

1. Good friendships are strong enough to endure differences. How much better to be able you talk about our different opinions than to hide them away for fear of upsetting each other.  It makes for more authentic relationships and ones that we can truly trust.

2. The fact is we ARE all different. How dull life would be if we were all the same and could offer nothing more than agreement? How many ideas would never have got off the ground? How may good inventions would never become great?

“It is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster’s shell that makes the pearl…” Stephen King

3. Criticism keeps me ‘awake’ to what’s important. It makes me stop and think, rather than sleepwalking into something that I haven’t fully thought through.

4. I have a choice about how I respond to others’ criticism. It is THEIR opinion and they are as entitled to it as I am to mine.  Whether or not it upsets me is down to me. In just the same way, I can decide if a compliment is going to make my day.

I once asked a friend if my butt looked big in the dress I was wearing.  He said, “YES – and it looks gorgeous.” you decide which bit if that statement to take to heart!

A criticism is simply someone else’s opinion that seems at odds with our own. 

Our power is in deciding what to do with that opinion. 

I try to examine it as if it were an interesting piece of news. I look at it from all angles, consider which bits of it I might agree with; try to understand where the deliverer of the criticism is coming from and see it as an opportunity to learn something. After all, there may be an element of truth in someone else’s point of view, in which case I would be wise to take notice.

So, next time you are criticised, take time to examine the criticism before you bat it back or let it ruin your day and above all, exercise YOUR POWER and CHOICE, as to how you respond.

Professor Jo Clarke is founder and Director of Petros.

Photo by Harry Grout on Unsplash