When I was working with my coaching client yesterday, we talked about some of the changes she was making and that fact that good changes can still be hard for some people to deal with.
When it comes to business and being a success in business, you will have to get use to criticism. The right type of criticism can be very helpful and make you better than you thought you could be. On the other hand, if you listen to the wrong kind of criticism, it can actually make things worse.
To that end, it’s important to understand the different types of critics—you need to know who you should listen to and who you should ignore.
There are essentially three types of critics: friendly, indifferent and hostile. Each type of critic has a different agenda and all but one has something good to offer. It’s important to understand and differentiate between these three types of critics so that not only can you quickly identify those whom you should listen to and those who you should ignore, but also so that you can learn to provide criticism yourself in a constructive and useful way.
1. Friendly – People who offer friendly criticism are often your supporters. These people care about you and want you to succeed. They often use criticism to build up the person, not tear them down. They want you to make it in the world and sometimes their ideas are good and sometimes not. You’re more likely to listen to this type of criticism since it comes from known supporters, but remember to ensure that the advice given is fact based or at least reasonable. If you’re not sure, ask someone else what they think. Just because a friend offers criticism doesn’t make it right.
2. Indifferent – People who offer indifferent criticism typically don’t really so much care about hurting your feelings as much as they care about bringing about the truth and facts surrounding an issue. They may be natural objectors who simply like being a sounding board to bring out the different aspects of a situation. They might like to play “devil’s advocate.” It’s important to listen to this type of criticism and also pay attention. Still, you want to use your own good judgment and avoid coming to any hasty conclusions.
3. Hostile – Today, these types of critics are commonly referred to as “trolls.” This type of criticism has no objective reason, or supportive reason. Instead it is designed to demean, attack, control and undermine. You can recognize this type of critic because they are on attack and trying to tear you down. Oddly, you can still benefit from this type of criticism but mostly these are the people you should ignore. If someone is “trolling” you, the best response is almost always no response. If someone is really getting to you, you can always ask your friends what they think. Your supporters and friends will jump in to defend you.
This happened to me last year. Someone that I didn’t know well posted some fairly inflammatory things on Facebook about me (things that weren’t true, by the way). I addressed the issue only a little bit and my friends jumped in and supported me like crazy. As odd as it may sound, seeing my friends and supporters coming to my defense made me almost glad for the troll.
To evaluate criticism, consider the following:
* How true is it? List out the facts of the situation so that you can determine what is really true.
* Should I change it? Some things might be true but they don’t need to be changed because they’re relatively minor or the benefit to them outweighs the cost of changing.
* How can I change it? If some good points have been made, and you decide you want to, what’s the best way to make the change?
* Do I care? If it’s something from a hostile source, do you really care at all what they think?
* How can I make this a positive? Now, how can you take the facts of the criticism and turn it around into a positive? This is my favorite question of all.
In each case you should always listen to the criticism with open eyes and ears without being defensive. Each has its own good and bad points, and while you can ignore the person giving the hostile advice due to their rudeness, do listen to what they say so that you can determine if there is any level of truth. After all, regardless of the reason for the critic to give you advice, as long as there is truth you can profit from it.
I think the most important thing to remember is to be strong, confident in yourself. At the end of the day, whether the criticism is valid or not, it’s important to consider what Teddy Roosevelt said: “It is not the critic who counts….”