Menu

Faith Publications

Find the Best.

7 Ways to Respond to Criticism Graciously

Criticism

When we receive constructive criticism, even if the person criticizing you has the best intentions, it can make you feel defensive and insecure. Receiving criticism, whether it is constructive or destructive or whether it was asked for or uninvited, it can be difficult to swallow. Many of us long for the approval of others. We work hard to accomplish our goals, but when our flaws are pointed out it makes us feel like we can’t do anything right. Perhaps we are our own worst critic that hearing other critical voices are just too many to bear. Criticism may come with many emotional misgivings, but know that constructive criticism should be meant to be a welcomed tool that propels you forward and develops you as an individual.  Here are six ways to take criticism graciously.

Responding to Criticism

Listen
First, just listen. Do not interrupt and do not ask questions yet. Give yourself a moment to digest the information and truly take it all in. The first response many of us have when we receive criticism is to become defensive. Listen to the criticism all the way through and it may teach you something. Even the most painful, hurtful comments have the ability to teach us something about ourselves. Just stay silent, shut down your defenses and take in what they have to say.

 

Ask Questions
In order to grow, you need to fully understand the person criticizing you. Ask clarifying questions and maybe even ask for advice on how to improve. The person who is criticizing you clearly sees your flaws and may even see a way for you to ameliorate.

 

Respond
You don’t have to agree with the criticism that is being told, but you must respond. If you agree with the criticism, a simple ‘thank you’ will do. If you do not agree, and you are positive it’s just not your ego speaking, you can relay that to the criticizer without a harsh, angry tone. Simply respond by saying something along the lines of, “I didn’t realize I came across that way, those were not my intentions. Thank you for sharing your opinion.” Be courteous and gracious.

 

Translate Accurately
For many of us, first responses to criticism are to be defensive, and the usual response is feeling insecure. Rather than hearing a helpful message, we think we are negatively being reminded of our flaws. Instead, focus on the truth about yourself and your value, then you will hear others opinions more accurately and grow from their wise input.

 

Understand Your Value
Lower the stake by understanding that your value is separate from your performance. Therefore, receiving constructive criticism is not a comment on who you are as a person, but how you can improve your own craft.

 

Ask Yourself
Now that you have heard the opinions of others and you understand their criticism, it is your turn to re-evaluate yourself. Is their criticism true and helpful? Do you believe that you can do some improving? It doesn’t have to be on exactly what the person who criticized you said but make your own assessment on how you think you should improve.

Constructive criticism is meant to help you, so take it as such. If you feel the person is only being degrading, you don’t have to agree, just nod and thank them for the input. Criticism can help you learn more about yourself, and you might be surprised by the potential you didn’t know you had and take it to reach new goals.

How to Be Gracious When Your Family Is Uninspiring

Uninspiring family

Having a family that loves you unconditionally is one of the luckiest joys in life. But I’ve learned that loving your family comes in many different layers. For our generation, the connections we have with our parents are no longer strong and it isn’t because we’re growing up to be ‘too cool’ for them. I think it may be because we no longer have a common mentality. As we grow older, learn more about ourselves and what we want out of life, our interests change. And relationships have to be built on some sort of commonality. Once this common ground is lost, it’s very difficult to get it back. Even within your family.

uninspiring family

We were raised under different standards, have higher expectations and are more judgmental in terms of what we accept from life. Our terms of success are now based on what makes us feel fulfilled, rather than choosing a job we dislike but have to take in order to feed the family we started. We choose an artistic career, or in their eyes, an ‘unconventional’ career that has very slim chances of measurable and steady success. We are getting married much later and traveling more. We are selfishly making an active effort to make the right choices in our own lives that are going to benefit us. It’s difficult to be a part of a family that doesn’t really understand this way of living. They can make you feel like you are living life incorrectly. It’s degrading, uninspiring, emotionally difficult and honestly irritating. Not being able to talk to your family about your dreams and goals because they simply don’t understand is really disobliging.

Once you realize this and find the courage within yourself to stick to your dreams and get through it on your own, it will drive a wedge between you and your loved ones. You will refrain from talking about your dreams with them, even when you are slowly accomplishing the stepping stones to get there–the more you accomplish, the less you’ll share. You might keep them updated here and there, but finding the opportunity to sit down and share the one thing that makes your eyes gleam will not be so quick to come. This entire conversation is not enjoyable because of the mental disconnect. It might become tempting to think you’re better than your family because you know you’re going to make it differently than how they have ultimately chosen to live, but you shouldn’t. That was their choice and this is yours.

In addition to misunderstanding parents, there are the relatives who are naysayers. Naysayers are the family members who not only don’t understand your dream, they also purposefully put you down. Most often, naysayers have not fulfilled their own dreams. They haven’t lived an inspired existence because they are too busy living in fear, and that is their own personal problem until they put this negativity onto you. Since their dreams didn’t work out for them, they go around the dinner table just parroting words that have kept them down their whole lives. Maybe they believe that life is about living inside a sad land call Normalville, where regular people populate the average town of Mediocrity, sitting there drinking their morning cup of boring everyday. When they say they are just looking out for you and want you to set a realistic goal is maddening. Wait I’m sorry…is pursuing a dream you firmly believe in and one that others have also succeeded in unrealistic? Whatever the reason, your wild goals and ambitions may be threatening for this person. This criticism is easy to handle; simply block it out. Have confidence in your plans and refuse to hear their ungracious comments. Find that internal switch labeled ‘Giving a Damn’ and simply flick it from do to don’t. Even if it’s a family member.

Conquering Indecision

Conquering Indecision

Indecision ungraciously propels us to change our minds all of the time. Whether done with or without a controlled thought, this continuous change in what we do, or what we set out to do may exasperate others. Even more so, there’s a wastefulness that results from constantly changing our minds and our own irresolution can self-inflict a myriad of negative outcomes in our lives and our work.

For those of us who may be guilty of continuously changing our opinions or thought process may know the root of this is essentially fear. This fear, this ambivalence, can paralyze us into a state of idleness. We fear to make a mistake so we refrain from making any moves at all. However, we all know the saying: not making a decision is a decision in itself. Fear of failure means you are already considering it an option.

Feelings are tough; processing, trying to have a clear head all while in your bones you are firm in what you feel. It’s real. There are many factors involved and some you’ll never have the answer to. Being able to remove the fear and doubt by focusing on choosing a path with an open mind for changes. Don’t finalize all decisions with certainty, because life always has a funny way of working out or falling apart. See your options, guide yourself towards what feels right, and always leave room for adjustments as you walk through this journey.

Here’s some suggestions when you need some help practicing strategies in decision making:

indecision

Step Back, Look At The Big Picture
Start by looking at the facts, and consider a bigger picture in a purely objective light. Research and gather as much information you’ll need to make an informed decision. Ask yourself questions about how it will affect your life or the lives of those around you. Consider the short-term and long-term possible outcomes. Consider all options to be sure the choices you make are not ones made carelessly, but chosen carefully.

 

Seek Balanced Opinions
You are not alone in this world. There are people who care about you deeply. Don’t be afraid to ask a trusted friend over coffee what their opinion is. Get an outside perspective and take it into consideration. However, don’t follow that path just because your friend suggested it. You must know it within yourself as well. Asking someone else will sometimes help you get a better understanding of the situation you’re in because they see it from a different light on the outside. They may see things you didn’t catch, but you also feel things they may not feel. Thus why we take both into account. Include yourself in this intentional subjective journey and do not dismiss your own intuition feelings. You may want to meditate on the decision at hand, relative to your own values, or pray for spiritual guidance.

 

Be Honest With Yourself
You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings. Also, when you are setting up the expectations you want for yourself, set a tangible goal. Reach further than you think is possible, but formulate a plan of action based on what you have gathered, learned and determined. Whether the goal requires one step or a hundred steps, establish how you are going to achieve it. You can achieve it.

 

Evaluate, but Look Forward
Don’t dwell on the past, but it’s good to check in on yourself and be reminded of your progress. Everyday while you’re on this journey you don’t really notice your progression. That is until you pause, and take a look back. Recognize any unanticipated consequences, but the focus on doing so should be purely for the sake of personal growth. There is a big difference between constructive self-evaluation, versus second guessing yourself along the way.

 

Know His Plan For You
When you walk with Him, the choices you make seem simpler. You may feel alone here trying to figure out which path you should be set on to go to, but know that His plan for you is already written out and you must simply follow. Wake up early, work hard, and be ambitious. Keep your priorities straight, your mind in the right place, and your head up. Do well, live well and dress really well. Do what you love, love what you do. It is time to start living. Your life will fall into place. No reason to be indecisive.