Sat, 28 November 2015
If you don’t want to be criticised - don’t do anything .Although you’ll probably then be criticised for not doing anything, or for doing nothing - if that’s actually possible.
The meaning behind it is clear - the more you do the more people have to criticise you about. the more you open yourself up to judgement.
We’ve all met people who always seem to be worried about what other people think about them. So much so it’s the determining factor in deciding if they do or don’t do something.
But let’s not let such thinking keep us living small lives and stop us getting out there, making an impact or doing what we want. Because the truth is that whatever you do you’re likely to be criticised.
Not least because we all do it. We criticise ourselves and and we criticise others - even if it’s only in the privacy of our own minds. But it’s actually a lot more out there than that if we’re honest.
Over the last few weeks we’ve been talking about feelings and being criticised brings up all sorts of feelings in us, so we thought it would be good to think about criticism and why we don’t like it. Starting with what it is, when and how we experience and ending with why we don’t like it.
What is criticism?
There’s many ways to describe criticism and they involve the following elements and concepts:
The modern word of criticism comes from the 14th century French expression critique and has roots in Latin ("criticus" - a judger, decider, or critic), and, even earlier, in classical Greek where "kritos" means judge, and "kritikos" means able to make judgements. this conveys the notion of the critic owning a sense of discernment - which isn’t often the first thing we think about when we’re being criticised.
The Oxford Dictionary carries 3 definitions of criticism
We’re talking predominantly about the first definition here.
When do we experience criticism?
We all experience criticism, at least in the sense of feedback, by virtue of growing up. It’s practically impossible to grow up and not be subject to criticism of some sort - and there are key sources of it.
For most of us it begins, and keeps going, in the family. Staring with our parents and our siblings and maybe extended family too like grandparents, uncles and aunties and cousins.
Then we go to school and it really kicks in big time and carries on into college and university - hopefully in a constructive feedback variety,even if it doesn’t always feel like that.
This continues into the workplace - only now it’s called 1:1s and performance reviews or even team meetings. It also happens if you work for yourself or are involved in a creative enterprise.
We’re not immune from criticism from our friends either. In fact the closer or more intense the relationship the more likely we are to experience criticism.
Which leads us to another potential source of criticism - our nearest and dearest - our husbands, wives or partners.
If you have children you will at some point endure their criticism - especially during those teenage years they’re trying to break free, find themselves and put their own stamp on the world, and you get criticised for much of what you do and stand for.
Do we ever welcome criticism?
There are occasions when we welcome criticism. We actively seek out people’s opinions on something, with the expectation they will be critical, by critiquing something we’re working on because we want to improve it or get buy-in.
Or we want to choose between alternatives and look for the discernment of others (like the original definition from ancient Greece) where the criticism is to determine a preference.
Or we know there’s something wrong with a project or creation and want honest guidance or feedback to help us improve it or get a different perspective on it.
When learning a new skill, criticism can be the mechanism to teach us where or how we can improve.
The way it’s delivered determines whether it’s seen as criticism or teaching or guidance. And not just how it’s delivered but how we hear it (more of that next week).
Whilst there may be times when we welcome or seek criticism, although we might not call it that, for most of us most of the time we see criticism as an unwelcome fact of life.
Criticism and why we don't like it
We don’t deny it may be good for us, that we can learn from it and become better at something or improve some aspect of ourselves - but we don’t like criticism. Why is that?
Because we don’t like the way it makes us feel. Isn’t that at the root of it?
In fact we don’t like the way that being criticised makes us feel so much that we almost fear being criticised.
We don’t like criticism because when someone criticises us:
If you have a high level or strong sense of self-esteem you might still feel these things we’ve talked about today - hurt, humiliated, outraged, rejected, guilty, uncomfortable, and also unappreciated - but it will be short-lived and you’ll bounce back quicker. You’ll have more resilience and your sense of worth isn’t dependent on what others think of you so much. You can’t avoid criticism but you can deal with it better - whether it’s justified or not.
But there are things we can do to help ourselves change the way we deal with criticism and that’s what we’’’ going to talk about next week in episode 71. So if you have any ideas or ways you do this we’d love to hear them.
Episode 70 of the Changeability Podcast
Listen to episode 70 of the Changeability Podcast to hear us talking about criticism and why we don’t like it.
We’d like to hear what you think
We’ve been thinking about what we might do with the podcast next year. There’s two things we’d love your feedback on:
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Thank you for listening and reading - we look forward to hearing from you.