Criticism can be extremely damaging, especially for career-oriented women who have been conditioned to care too much about what others think. In her article for The New York Times, author and business coach, Tara Mohr, says, “I often encounter women who don’t voice their ideas or pursue their most important work because of dependence on praise or fears of criticism.” We’re here to try and encourage women to overcome this fear and learn to embrace criticism. Here’s how.
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1. The truth hurts, but it also heals. Let’s face it, most of the time, criticism hurts and it’s hard to turn those so-called lemons into lemonade when you’re feeling like a failure. However, let’s take a step back. Is there any truth to the criticism being dished at you? If so, then those are the lemons you need to focus on — the non-moldy, useless ones. Like the saying goes, the truth will set you free, so figure out what truths you can extract from said criticism and work on bettering those things first. The useless, moldy “lemons” (or negative pieces of criticism) we were talking about earlier, simply throw them out because they don’t serve you well in any way, shape, or form.
2. Take it with a grain of salt. People can be super hurtful and demeaning for no other reason than them being unhappy with their own lives, so these are usually the people dishing the worst kind of criticism, because, after all, misery loves company. Therefore, the next time someone shoots negativity your way for no good reason other than to bring you down to their level, whatever you do, don’t take it personally. Everyone is fighting a battle of their own, so don’t go to war with someone simply because they offended you or said something hurtful — it has nothing to do with you, really. As Mandy Hale said, “Don’t waste words on people who deserve your silence. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is nothing at all.”
3. Look for the silver lining. More times than not, criticism can seem more like little daggers cutting you to the core, than something constructive and uplifting. Instead of taking criticism so negatively and allowing it to tear you down, try and extract the good out of it and use it as a driving force for bettering your situation. Of course, hearing words of disapproval about your work or yourself isn’t something that you need to embrace with open arms, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t find an ounce of good in the bad. When you find the silver lining in the criticism, you’ll be able to use the lesson learned for good.
4. You can have your cake and eat it too. Think about it: when someone provides criticism — negative or constructive — you’re forced to take a step back and evaluate the topic at hand and reassess. Best-case scenario, the criticism didn’t unveil any major flaws or concerns and you can continue on as usual. Worst-case scenario, you discovered an issue and you were able to rectify the situation and ensure that the project/task was completed to its best ability. It’s a win-win situation, really, because you demonstrate your ability to turn criticism/feedback into a positive driving force, and your project/task gets completed successfully in return.
5. That which does not kill you, only makes you stronger. Remember when you were younger and chanted, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” to your bullies (a.k.a. your siblings)? The same concept should apply to words of criticism. If and when you’re able to take criticism for what it is — feedback — then you’ll be able to use those words of wisdom to become a stronger, more well-equipped woman who isn’t afraid to take on the world wholeheartedly. It’s important to remember that nothing good ever came easy, so don’t let the negativity get you down, because it’s life’s way of strengthening you for bigger and better things down the road.
Rather than allowing criticism to shatter your dreams, learn to embrace it and turn it into something that serves your life and fuels your dreams. As Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
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