It’s never easy to hear criticism from someone.  Even if they have good intentions, it’s still difficult to accept.  When that criticism comes from a place of judgment, though, it’s even harder.

People respond to criticism differently.  Some internalize it, and others are defensive.  Even if you try not to let the remarks get to you, it’s easier said than done.

Simply put, criticism hurts!

So, what can you do to effectively respond to those judgmental remarks and not let them ruin your day or your mindset?

Be the Leader Who Listens

Most people’s first instinct is to defend themselves when they’re criticized. Instead, take a minute to listen, breathe, and fully understand what the other person has to say.  Why are they criticizing you?  Is there a deeper underlying cause for it?

If someone judging you feels like they aren’t being heard, they could continue to come at you with harsher criticism.  If you get into an argument with them, things could become even more heated.

By listening, you’ll be in a calmer state to respond, and you’ll have a better grasp of the situation.

A Little Emotion Goes a Long Way

Often criticism comes from a place of misunderstanding.  The old saying goes that there are two sides to every story.  You might experience criticism from someone because their take on things is different from yours.

Respond with empathy, not rigidity.

Showing a little empathy and letting that person know you understand their viewpoint can make a huge difference.  Don’t be afraid to show a little emotion, or even apologize if the situation warrants it.

Speak Face-to-Face

In a world where things like social media and texting seem to rule, it’s always best to have a meaningful discussion with someone face-to-face.  People tend to get braver when they’re behind a computer or cellphone screen.  This approach gives them the chance to say things and pass judgment that they might not usually say in a real-life situation.

Text conversations also make it easy to be misunderstood quickly.  Texting doesn’t allow for tone.  People can’t tell if you’re truthful, genuine, or sarcastic.

So, if there’s a problem between you and another person, it’s best to either talk it out in person or at least through the phone with an actual conversation.

Stick to the Facts

When you feel like someone’s verbally attacking you, it’s easy to throw insults back or try to defend yourself by whatever means possible.

Instead, it’s vital to stick to the facts and the truth.  As tempting as it can be to say things just to hurt someone in response, bringing the conversation back to a place of information based on facts will diffuse it much faster.  It will also take away the fuel from the person insulting you.

As a result, you’ll hopefully be able to come to a positive resolution faster, without any further criticism.

See It As a Learning Experience

Just because someone criticizes you, it doesn’t always mean you’re the cause for the criticism.  Someone could just be having a bad day.  They could be angry with someone else or a different situation.

It’s essential to gain perspective on criticism, rather than just letting it hurt your feelings.  Look at it as a learning experience, and you’ll be able to handle it better each time you experience it.  It will make you stronger.

While judgmental remarks are never easy to hear, how you handle them will make a difference in your resiliency.  Responding effectively will also help to show others–even those criticizing you–that you can handle the situation in a different, better, more positive way.

Take the first step…

If you are struggling with how to navigate challenging situations involving criticism and judgmental remarks, I would like to help.  Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT