3 Positive Ways to Respond to Criticism

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Critics aren’t hard to find. Almost anywhere–at anytime–you’ll find someone willing to give their two cents about how something should’ve been done. Sometimes, criticism can be good. Other times, it can be both unnecessary and damaging to one’s reputation. In the end, it’s what you do with criticism that really matters. So whether you take criticism well or you cringe at the very thought of it, the best thing you can do in response is to be armored up and ready to take the hit.

Here are three positive ways to respond when the critical canons start firing.

1. TURN THE OTHER CHEEK

Not only is it biblical (see Matthew 5:38), but it shows humility (not to be confused with weakness). In a culture where fighting back and getting revenge is elevated, sometimes it’s just appropriate to turn the other cheek. The worst you can do is hurt your pride a little.

2. SPONGE IT

While our human instincts often tell us to let criticism flow in one ear and out the other, a wiser strategy might be to let the criticism soak in. Often when we take some time to process a critic’s comments, motives, and intentions, we’ll learn some valuable lessons about ourselves and the critic’s point of view. Taking some time to sponge criticism might also save you some embarrassment from flying off the handle in defense or saying something hurtful that you didn’t really mean.

3. MEET AND GREET

Criticism can be easily misread, misconstrued, mismanaged behind the barrier of a letter, an email, or phone call. To really understand a critic’s point of view, get together to talk about it in person. You’ll be able to better interpret the person’s feelings and point of concern when you can discuss the criticism face to face. When a critic sees your willingness to discuss the issue at hand, sometimes his or her viewpoint will better align with your own.

Whatever you do, avoid responding impulsively to criticism. Push pause, take it in, and respond with humility, sincerity, and wisdom. As you respond positively to critics, you’ll be set for success to make the best of any situation.

He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

What lessons have you learned from responding to criticism? Comment below.

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Where There’s Hurt, There’s Healing

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“Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer” (Matthew 5:43-45, MSG).
Every morning, I make some time to open up Scripture and soak in some wisdom. Typically, I’ll pull a verse or two from the passage I’m reading and post on Facebook and Twitter. Recently, I posted the particular passage above from Matthew 5, and it seemed to resonate with several friends and followers in a different way than most. In particular, a certain friend wrote me a message pertaining to that post. In his message, my friend wrote:
“I read your Scripture post from Matthew 5:43-45 the other day. I realize what it says. But sometimes it’s hard to forget what people have done to you in the past. I also realize that Satan comes against us in this way. Any suggestions on how to overcome this? I know prayer is always good.”
I think most of us can relate to my friend’s response. We’ve all been hurt at some point, likely by someone we hold in high esteem. And though forgiving can be easy, forgetting is the harder part. So how do we overcome this?
In attempt to answer that question, let’s think about it in terms of wounds and scars. Those “hurts” in our lives are like scars. At one time, that scar was an open wound. In time (and with the help of a healing aid), the wound healed. However, the scar remains.  We can choose to let that scar be a bitter reminder of the past wound or hurt. Or we can ultimately view the scar as a reminder of the healing that took place, only through the aid of our Healer.
In leadership (and in life), there will be hurt. There will be wounds. There will enemies who inflict these hurts and wounds. Ultimately, there may even be scars. But our response should reflect the wisdom found in those passages from Matthew…
1. Love your enemies.
2. Let them bring out the best in you.
3. Respond with prayer for them.
I’m not sure that we’ll ever “forget” the particular hurt caused by someone in our past. But the path to overcoming the hurt involves continuing to pray (unselfishly) for those who hurt us, trusting that God will give us a new compassion and love for them.
The greatest leaders aren’t vengeful. Rather, they let their enemies bring out the best in them.
How do overcome the hurt from your past wounds?
What do you see when you look at the scars in your life?