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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spirituality: Techniques for Dealing with Criticism

No one likes to be criticized. Rather, we appreciate feedback. The main recommendation in dealing with criticism is to NOT EVER DEFEND YOURSELF! Strange, huh? Here are some techniques to deal with unwanted criticism.

1. Cloud the issue: Acknowledge the possibility/probability of the truth. You do not defend, but let the critic's statement pass right through you.

Example: When a friend says, "Your life is a mess," you can reply, "You're right. Things are not going well for me." She retorts, "So when are you going to do something about it?" and you can reply, "I'll take care of it when I'm in a better space to do so. Thanks for your help."

2. Clarifying: You want to bring your critic back towards logic and objectivity. Her energy will soon dissipate and you have protected your own choices. Be like one of the detectives in CSI who always asks questions that probe and search for the person's subjectivity. You avoid defending yourself and get the other person out of her critical cover-up.

Example: When a friend says, "I don't like the color you painted your office," you can ask, "Well, what don't you like about it?" He replies, "Well, I don't like the color yellow?" which leads you to ask, "what don't you like about the color yellow?" He says, "It is just too bright and I don't like bright colors for an office," to which you can ask, "Why don't you like bright office colors?" The conversation ends or the real issue comes to the surface.

3. Assert Yourself: When you are criticized, you can assert yourself with simple guidelines.

a. Merely state what you see and hear, interpret, feel and want.
b. Use "I" statements to take responsibility for what you perceive, interpret, feel and want.
c. Describe the behaviors of others and yourself rather than judging or evaluative words.
d. Make eye contact with the person.

Example: When a friend says, "Wow. That is an expensive camera. I bet it could have paid five of my monthly car payments," you can say, "When you make comments like that, I interpret that you feel bad about my good fortune." It allows your friend to explain herself and why she made such comments. The burden is on her, not you.

4. Confessing: Just state that you have clearly done what your critic has accused you of doing.

Example: When a friend says, "You dropped my wine glass and broke it," you can simply say, "Yes, I did break your glass. I'm sorry."

5. Cofirming: When you are dealing with a person who is acting irrationally, it is good to say something to yourself interiorly like, "No matter what you say and do, I'm still a good and worthy person."

Example: Use the above statement when an angry boss is yelling at you over the phone.

6. Comforting: Comfort the other person when you have violated their boundaries and she is calling you on it. Reassuring words of your actions can help her out. It communicates that you are an accountable person.

Example: A friend says, "You picked me up late and made me late for an appointment." YOu can say, "I hear that you are upset and angry. I'll call your appointment to let them know that you are arriving late because of me."

7. Confuse the Other Person: This technique can work with people who you might meet on street, but are not close friends or family. You can confuse them to get them off your back. Use a Yogi Berra statement or something that doesn't quite make sense and it gets them thinking about something else.

Example: A co-worker complains that you have taken too much time to complete a task and you can make a non-sensical statemen like,"Just as I was ready to print the document, my olfactory senses were assaulted by what seemed to be a wombat." You can walk away leaving the other person to piece together what you said. Just have fun with the process so you don't get yourself down.

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