Criticism - how to handle it and move on - Business Works
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Criticism - how to handle it and move on

by Eve Watkins Everyone has to deal with criticism at some point in their lives. It can be a bruising experience so itís essential you donít let it affect you. If the criticism is unfair or just plain wrong then it will only serve to highlight the shortcomings of your critic rather than yourself. Be respectful, but make sure you move forward with your idea without dwelling too much on these comments. By the same token, you must always keep an open ear to constructive comments that will offer new perspectives and guidance. As humans, we prefer praise to criticism so it is normal to feel anger especially if the reasoning is clearly unfounded.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds Albert Einstein

Stay calm; follow our specialised advice and you should be okay.

Coping with negative criticism

Your initial response to the criticism is most important. Body language and facial expression can be clear indicators of your inner feelings. You may feel angry so you need to deploy a strategy to overcome these urges to 'fightback',so that emotions donít boil over.

  1. Repeat it: if you reply straight away, anger will scramble judgement and more than likely jeopardise an important work place relationship or valuable contact. Relay the criticís complaint back to them in your own words making sure that you have properly understood. This will give you time to make an informed comeback. Use reasonable facts to substantiate your arguments.
  2. Open out their side of the argument: Show the critic that you are quite willing to look at things from his perspective. This establishes mutual respect in the debate so you can talk it out like adults. Use language like 'I appreciate your views (even if you donít) but ...'.
  3. Exit gracefully: If the critic continues to argue the point and you feel yourself faltering then more time needs to be designated to developing your response. So, move on politely by saying something like 'I appreciate your feedback, it is certainly something to think about moving forward'. There is certainly no shame in this. It places importance on future meetings and shows that you are a credible person.

Note: If the criticís voice has some sort of importance within the company, than you need to treat the issue with more caution. Even if you believe the comments to be incorrect, donít disregard the chance that something can be learnt from the discussions. Donít be too timid but remain dignified and move on.

Identify positive criticism

It is often very difficult to distinguish between the unjust critic and the more positive critic who will be offering help for you. Here are some tips to help you identify positive criticism:

  • Motives? If the person doesnít like you or is competing against you for recognition than it is more than possible that the critic has an ulterior motive. If it is a trusted friend that visibly finds it difficult to tell you something is wrong, open up, absorb and listen.
  • Hearing the same thing? If a lot of people are pointing out similar flaws in your idea then its probably time to take it on board and make the required changes.
  • Specific? If the advice doesnít focus on the specific areas that need changing than it is not much use to you. Typically these people will regurgitate some 'sacred' corporate jargon in an attempt to impress superiors. Ask them if they can be more precise in their feedback.
  • Respect? You need to consider whether the person is an authority figure on the subject. If they are perceptive and switched on or if they have knowledge and experience in the specific field than the advice will often be constructive so shut up and listen.
  • Ego? If you disagree with some comments, make sure that it isnít merely your ego getting in the way. If you set high standards for yourself than you may feel hurt by the thought that there is scope for improvement in your work. Remember, no one is perfect!

Taking on board positive criticism is a crucial part of personal growth and idea development. It will help you adapt to commercial realities you might have before been naÔve to. When you initiate your own idea and have worked on it for a while, you tend to get very attached to the creation and so cannot judge it impartially. Look to others to guide you. Itís not easy, but the dialog and discussion that takes place in the feedback process is invaluable.

Move on with your idea

Whether you have absorbed constructive criticism or ignored the negative stuff, it is now time to move on with your idea. In these hard economic times, careful business and marketing strategies are crucial in idea expansion. Research the cheapest ways to mobilise these strategies. This could mean employing an external company to help adapt your idea to the market and to gain crucial exposure. Or, it could mean doing it yourself through personal research. One of these research areas should be aimed at essential logistics so that regional niches can be efficiently exploited. It could be part of an expansion programme at your current consumer business or part of a fresh new business model. Thorough HGV insurance comparisons and analysis will always cut costs and make your financial model more viable.

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