Personal Development: How to Treat Compliments and Criticisms

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain
in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” ~ Winston Churchill

Everyone has had it happen. You ask for feedback, you say you want feedback, but when you actually get some constructive feedback you become defensive. Taking constructive criticism well is a difficult but vital skill to learn.  But equally important is the ability to not let compliments consume you, either. Because, compliments and criticism are just reflections of each other.  In order to properly handle criticism, you also need to properly handle compliments. If someone excessively flatters you for a minor success, you need to internalize it the same way you would internalize a scathing insult.

The person that is easily flattered is also easily criticized. ~ Scott H. Young

Ultimately, only you are the master of your fate and if you allow yourself to be misled by attacks or flattery, you aren’t living on purpose. Now don’t take me wrong here, if someone congratulates you, by all means, thank them…..enjoy the fruits of your success. But if you fully embrace every piece of praise you receive, you open yourself to becoming overconfident, and since praise and criticism are equal partners, when you accept all praise without a thought, you expose yourself to criticism, so remain objective in both situations.  To remain objective to both criticism and compliments, keep a mental note of the 5 must know tips to accepting compliments and criticism.  

  1. Externalize it. When you externalize criticism, you escape the defensiveness trap and with compliments, you remain centered  You stop being self-conscious and over confident.  Taking criticism and compliments objectively lets you reap the benefits of them both. 
  2. Treat praise and criticism the same. Do not get overly worked up on the feedback, just know that it’s directed towards the issue, which is outside of you. 
  3. Stop caring what other people think of you. To prevent the excesses of praise and the humiliation of criticism, take what is actionable from their feedback and ignore the rest.
  4. It’s not personal. Especially when it’s criticism…’s the writer, artist, designer, trainer, or whatever you’re getting feedback for…it just happens to have the same name as you. However, when you take feedback objectively, your initial up front, take it back, attitude of defensiveness fades away, simply because you’re not taking it personally anymore.
  5. Think well of yourself.….that’s far more important than praise or criticism.  Understand that if what you’re doing (your daily actions) doesn’t reflect your true goals or values, you won’t be happy. So think well of yourself, because you and you alone are the master of your fate.

Okay, you say in theory this sounds great, but in practice, I’m only human and like everyone else, I feel bad when criticized and happy when complimented.Well, okay, then allow that 10 minute stretch and  if you don’t let them eat at your consciousness or self-esteem, then you’ve succeeded. Remember other people can offer great advice and suggestions, but they can’t be the judge of your self-worth. If people throw compliments your way, thank them and focus on your goal. If people are critical of you, thank them and focus on your goal. Because, in the end…. you and you alone are the master of your fate.

7 thoughts on “Personal Development: How to Treat Compliments and Criticisms

  1. I always try to be fair when critiquing others. I like to hear the full story before I give my opinion and I always offer different ways of looking at things. I also tell people to get a second opinion and don't base things on what one person says.

  2. Geesh! This is so true, even for me. I always want feedback but sometimes I think, “Harsh!” I have always tried to work on taking the good with the bad and learning from them both. This is very well put.

  3. Absolutely Kathy, praise is much easier to stomach, but it could also give you a false sense of self-esteem so treating praise and criticism the same keeps you centered….thanks for visiting.

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