The Random House Dictionary reads, Criticize: to find fault, blame, censure, condemn. Taking criticism personally was definitely something I took on and became emotional about. After receiving a condemning critical comment, then reading the true meaning of criticism, I realized that we are both to blame. The criticizer totally misunderstood the meaning of my article, wherein others didn’t. Thereby giving me the indication that I cannot take for granted that everyone is going to understand my meaning of something. I need to be aware of this so that I do not allow my emotions to overcome my actions when in reality my thoughts just mean something different to someone else. I also need to be aware of the meaning of the word, sometimes people want to just find fault, blame or condemn others to make them feel better.
Then I began to think back on some of the criticism I had received in the past from bosses, friends and family. I believe there is always some truth in any criticism. However, when being criticized, there is a need to look at the whole situation before beating up on yourself or taking any kind of action.
In a family situation, my sister horribly criticized me. We are many years apart and she felt (key word) that I had done something to hurt her in our past (quite possibly true). When she finally let loose at me in a barrage of words, I saw that she was jealous of something I had accomplished. However, I knew how very much she had to be thankful for and that she really did not completely understand what was going on in my life. Because it was a situation where she was jealous, it was impossible for me to talk with her about it. I waited a number of years for our relationship to finally become sisterly. She had to obtain the help that allowed her to understand our relationship and the sister part of it. We now have a very good relationship, but there was nothing I could do to hurry the process. I had to wait and, although I take responsibility also, I realized that I should not take all of the responsibility of the criticism. It was a hurtful time waiting and wondering if we would ever have that sisterly relationship.
In a boss/employee situation, the criticism needs to be reviewed from several different angles. The personality of the boss, of the company and the co-workers need to be considered in this review of the situation. Many issues can be attributed to criticism in the workplace. For example, there are bosses that want your work done only one way and a creative person is going to be criticized regularly. Is the creative person wrong or to feel as if they can’t do the job, not necessarily, they may not be right for that particular job or they may need to change their attitude. Another situation in the workplace is control. The company, the boss and or the co-workers want control of situations and sometimes each other. Co-workers may have an Agenda that does not include you or if it does, it is because either they want to look better to the boss than you do or they want you to do most of their work. This is a very real situation. Delegation is good, however, when all the work is put on one co-worker, criticism takes on a whole new perspective – manipulation.
Manipulation in any form, through friends, bosses or family, is something to be aware of. A good way to manipulate someone is to make them feel bad about themselves or to perceive they have done you wrong (guilty feelings). This puts criticism in a whole new light. If someone wants you to act a certain way so they must criticize you. In receiving that criticism, most people feel bad about themselves, or believe they are wrong, which could also be true. There are many ways to manipulate, but criticism is definitely one of them because it is a hurtful and, therefore, a situation that becomes more difficult to handle.
Criticism should always be carefully reviewed from all sides to be sure that whatever truth is there within it can be handled. As I previously mentioned, there is usually some truth in the criticism. However, people have their own agendas and some of the words used within their criticism are simply hurtful words because they are hurt by what they perceived you have done to them. Reviewing the whole situation will help you understand the person, the relationship, and what you need to do to handle it. Sometimes it is you and you need to take responsibility. However, in most every criticism are words that do not belong there and are only used because of anger within the person who is blasting you at the time. Let it cool, and then you can approach the person with logic, reason and patience. Most everything can be worked through with understanding and a lot of patience.