The Secret of coping with criticism

NLP techniques

What is criticism?

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.

Destructive criticism

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.

The Secret of coping with criticism – in business or workplace

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 competition.

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 criticised. 

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 each other. 

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.

The secret of coping with criticism - Be flattered

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).

The inadequacy of the criticisers

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.

The Secret of coping with criticism - Let success speak for itself

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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