The Secret of coping with bad criticism is, I suspect, what you are seeking. The word criticism means to pass judgment on something, or someone, about its or their qualities, so we may be speaking of good points as well as bad ones, although these days criticism has generally come to mean commenting unfavourably, so that is where we will place our attention for these purposes.
To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing
Constructive, unbiased criticism from a parent or tutor,
designed to assist and aimed towards your improvement, may be very useful.
General, destructive criticism aimed usually at bringing down a successful person because the speaker or writer is envious of their success is, however, insidious and harmful.
Regrettably, it is something that the media in the form
of television and newspapers indulges in daily.
I am sure that many of those who speak and write in such a negative and
destructive way would instantly deny the allegation and allege that they act
only in the public interest.
The difficulty is that although on occasions it is justified, in the vast majority it is not and it has become a way of creating news stories.
We have all experienced it. Sometimes it happens in the work place or in business, and at other times socially. Sometimes the criticism is by innuendo, or indirect, and other times it is direct. But whichever way it comes, it is equally malicious and potentially hurtful.
When I was a young businessman I was handed a new
government appointment to provide a legal service in an area where a few old
firms had been appointed for a considerable period of time without any new
The difficulty was that the old firms were stagnating and falling
down in their responsibilities. At first
there were official protests to the government department concerned.
When that failed and I was able to proceed, there was a general smear campaign to the effect that I and those I employed were incompetent.
You may well say “Well, that is business” but it is not
a productive way to do business and it did not assist those who
Some years later, the
government department, wisely you may think, decided to put the contracts out
to tender. Again, the old firms whined
and moaned and held a secret meeting at which they all agreed not to tender against
I saw an opportunity here
and swept the field. So they complained
to the national newspapers and threatened legal action complaining that I had
been party to that agreement.
But I wasn’t even there when they made their unlawful agreement, and it did them no good at all.
If you are criticised in this way, be flattered. You can be sure that in order to earn such
vindictive behaviour you have been successful in some way, and the criticisers
are just endeavouring to bring you down.
Walk the high road. Get on and do what you are doing effectively. Remember how you got there in the first place (and why they didn’t).
Most people, when they criticise you, are thinking about
their own inadequacies and comparing themselves with you.
They see what you have got – or what they perceive you have got – and what they haven’t and aim barbs in your direction to make themselves feel better, usually because they haven’t got your skills or abilities and are too bone idle to get off their own backsides and improve their own position.
My friend Charlie was a taxi driver for many years. He was popular in the town. But he had a little more go in him than most
and looked for ways to get started in business.
He organised dances.
Sometimes he made a very small profit; on other occasions he made losses. I remember him telling me that on one occasion he hired a hall and a band, and no-one turned up on the door to dance. So he was left with the bills and a big hole in his pocket.
Then one day, after many failures, he saw a building for
rent which he thought might be a good location for a night club.
At that time there was very little
entertainment available locally in the evenings and the town did not boast a
night club. So he rented it. It became instantly popular.
The business became so popular that he was able to buy the premises outright and open another night club in a nearby town. He became a very successful businessman and prospered until he died.
But his old taxi driving chums resented it. They criticised his success and found it hard
to say a good word about him.
Some said they would never put money into his pocket by patronising his club. Charlie
was just as nice a guy as he was in the days he drove taxis around the town; it
was just that he was now successful and prosperous.
They, on the other hand, were still driving their taxis around the locality well into old-age and struggling to pay their bills.
Usually you will not be able to control what others say
about you, no matter how unfairly. You
can, however, control your reaction to it.
You can decide not to let it bother you.
Listen instead only to the sort of unbiased, helpful criticism that will lead you to greater success in your life and ignore the rest.
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