The fear of being criticized is paralyzing. It can stop you from sharing your honest opinions with loved ones, prevent you from expressing grand ideas you might have at work, and ultimately, keep you from advancing further in life.
Being afraid of criticism boils down to a fear of conflict. People will try to avoid conflict at all costs, but what must be realized is that new ideas and progress can arise from conflict. Just look at Steve Jobs. Had he been afraid of criticism, he would have never expressed his gutsy technologically advanced ideas, and we wouldn’t have all the innovations that Apple has brought us. If you have a tendency to keep quiet out of the fear of criticism, here’s how to deal with that fear.
The first thing you must do is focus on what you believe in and what you did right. Be careful not to take to heart criticism or let it define you. If valid, it’s a learning opportunity. If it isn’t, then it’s a reminder that your ideas hit a nerve and can potentially be polarizing or maybe an opportunity to re-evaluate your approach or message. Stay focused on what’s most important: your views and beliefs.
Next, speak your mind. Don’t be deterred by opposing views or criticism. Doing so is avoidance, and that will make you weaker, not stronger. If you want to overcome criticism, you must also accept the notion that there will be some people who love you and others who don’t. It’s hard to please everyone.
After accepting this notion, work on changing your self-talk. Instead of thinking, “I can’t deal with this” or “Maybe they are right about me”, think, “I am strong and can roll with the punches” or “Others don’t define me, I define me”.
Another good tip when dealing with criticism is to wait before responding. Your initial response to criticism might be emotionally-laden and likely will not help you to handle the situation in a healthy way. Pause, take a deep breath and wait. This will help you have a clearer head when responding.
Lastly, move on. After receiving criticism, thank the person for the feedback, tell them you’ll give it more thought, and move forward.