Critics aren’t hard to find, especially if you’re a young adult. Almost anywhere—at any time—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 5:38-39), 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 own 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 truly 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.
Adam York is an editor, writer, and content specialist. When he’s not crafting copy, you’ll find him on adventure with his wife, Kathryn, and son, Liam.