C for Criticism


“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson in His Journals

Humans being social creatures seek approval and honor from people around them. But social interaction comes with its own set of difficulties, one being fear of criticism. Recent research also suggests the notion that the perception of criticism is also a trigger for mental illness such as extreme depression and anxiety.

Criticism is not always clear as some are direct and some vague. The ambiguity of some criticism makes one wonder if it is criticism or not. At times one must deal with nonchalant criticism from others, which may not be intentional but can harm your motivation and self-esteem. Research shows that ambiguity in these interpretations of this criticism can lead to depression and social anxiety. People with high social anxiety experience severe criticism. Perfectionism and self-criticism also lead to a feeling of being threatened.

How do we deal with the criticism of people close to us and not have a mental break down?

  1. Firstly, it is important to understand the emotion at the moment of the person criticizing. Think about what they are going through in their life. Are they looking for a job? If they are and you just started a new job, they may be a little hurt, so be empathetic. If they are going through a divorce, they may not be so happy to see your honeymoon pictures.
  2. Before responding to criticism, think about what the person is trying to say. If it is a genuine critic, trying to help you, take a moment to think about what they are trying to say and consider it. It would also be a kind gesture to get back to the critic and thank them for their input and let them know that they were very helpful.
  3. When the criticism arrives from jealousy and insecurity, the first thing to do is put on your iron robe and bring forward your strongest self. Explain your answer with civility, be it your closest relative or an acquaintance. Give rational and coherent answers. Choose a high moral ground that makes them wonder about what they said. Yes, words are hurtful but we are in control of our emotions and if we decide we can navigate our way through any hardship. I am going to take the help of my role model Michelle Obama and quote her here, “when they go low, we go high.”
  4. The hardest people to deal with are the less intelligent people. These are hard to avoid no matter how much you try. These people have a way of finding you somehow and then you are stuck with them for a while that may seem like ages. In this scenario, cut them some slack and understand that they live in a bubble that you don’t belong to. Praise them. I have never met a stupid person who does not like praises. This will ease them as the most stupid people I see around me are also insecure. Be boring and they will move on to bother someone else. Most importantly, be kind to them as in some scenarios and some days we may be the village idiot.

Hamna Siddique MS, CCII, CLC is a coach specializing in career, business, and leadership coaching. Website: www.hamnasiddique.com, Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. ©2019 Goldbridge Coaching LLC | All Rights Reserved |  

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