By: Susan Adams M.Ed.
Criticism is, unfortunately, a part of our society and a part of many relationships. Are you criticism deaf? That means that you have heard so much criticism that everything sounds like that to you. Do you wind up getting offended easily and does that lead to conflict with the criticizer? You can learn some new techniques!
Many people grow up with parents who think that it their job to perfect the child rather than to enjoy him. These people have been so criticized that they become very sensitive to it. Everything sounds like a put-down. They wind up feeling guilty and defensive. They may explode and counterattack when no offense was meant by the other person.
Have you ever heard of learning to turn criticism into a compliment? “Ridiculous”, you may say. Here’s how. It takes practice but it can be lots of fun.
And let’s remember, before we go on, that there are at least two kinds of people in the world: those that want to be helpful and those that enjoy upsetting you with criticism. I hope you have more of the former in your life.
So someone says, “What, you are wearing pink today? You don’t look good in pink!” You might have once responded with offense. Now you say, smiling, “Thank you so much for noticing. I appreciate your concern about what looks good on me!” You might add, “I like it but thanks for telling me that you don’t.” You continue to smile sweetly as you change the subject. At no time do you show offense.
Your mother says, “what- you are giving the kids hot dogs tonight?” “Gee mom, thanks for being so concerned. I’ve been working late but if you have time, you might come over and fix them what you think they should have.” These remarks are always said with lightness and appreciation for the thoughtfulness of the person with the suggestions and, hopefully, in time, your thinking will change and you will come to see the well-intentioned remarks of others.
In the meantime, those that enjoyed raining on your parade will find it isn’t nearly as much fun as it used to be and they will drop out of the game.
The secret here is to avoid getting offended at all costs and to remain appreciative for the advice though you don’t have to take it.
Sometimes, in the beginning, these responses won’t come easily. It is perfectly acceptable to say nothing while you think about a reply. Smile sweetly, and thank the other person for their concern.
“Why do we always have to have leftovers?” Gee, I am glad that you are concerned about what you eat. I’m glad that you want to take care of your body.” Here, you might ask for a solution. “When I am working late, what do you think we should do?” Wait for the answer.
You might then volunteer, “do you think that you might take on a night or two of cooking or having meals ready during the week.?” Again, always said sweetly and without antagonism. You are now into a conversation of problem-solving rather than an argument.
Did you know? You can turn any criticism into a compliment with a little creativity. And you can raise children who will know the art of doing this from an early age.