PREVIOUS: Criticism (Part 2)
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Getting VALUE out of Criticism
Whatever the style of communication ‘sent’, remember you’re not responsible for what others say, but only for how you react. Using our Adult ego state, we can have our internal feelings of hurt, anger, disappointment, confusion…. but it’s more self-esteeming if we don’t express anger & cause a scene. If we challenge the other person, it may escalate into an unnecessary & possibly damaging argument
Ultimately, if the criticisms are in fact judgmental, attacking our character, controlling, manipulative…. then it’s wisest to walk away, or be very brief in our response (See “Effective Responses” & “Useful, Clever responses”)
Suggestion 😣: No matter what – it’s not empowering to defend our position, over-explain or try to ‘make them see’…. which all comes from the WIC. (see ‘ACoAs & Anger’ post). This is especially important when dealing with family, a mate, friend or boss – if those people are in the habit of being emotionally abusive.
However, if the person offering criticism is reasonably fair-minded & genuinely wants to be helpful, you can :
1. Think of the criticism as a ‘suggestion’ rather than a condemnation or a command. Consider what you’ve been told carefully, thinking it over & looking at it from different angles.
KEEP in MIND: If you’re having a rage or S-H reaction you’ll need to process that first (in 2-handed writing, therapy, Program….).
• is the criticism accurate & I’m ashamed of being exposed?
• is it similar to what I heard a lot growing up?
• is the ‘thing’ being criticized related to a deep need or longing in me?
• is my criticized behavior the result of my damage, or a disability (ADD, dyslexia), because of a recent trauma, a change in meds?…..
OR are you being actually misjudged & you just want to kill? NOW, ACoAs tend —
• to get enraged when accused wrongly – as kids no one took our side or want to hear our explanation of reality, there was no justice…. AND
• we feel terrified when accuse rightly! because as kids we got severely punished, often unfairly, in a way which left us deeply alone, nor did we don’t get help to learn what we did wrong & how to correct it!
2. With due consideration, decide if you agree with the critic’s ideas.
a. If you do not agree, either wholly or in part, take the time to form your reasons, based on intuition, experience & positive information. You may or may not choose to express this to your critic, depending on how important it is to your well-being or to your work, & depending on whether the person is dangerous or not – to your livelihood or health
b. If you do agree, hopefully you’ll have dealt first with any negative fallout from you WIC or PP. No one can be perfect – it’s not human! Agreeing with the other person is not an admission of failure or worthlessness!
• Consider how you can apply the offered suggestion to your communication or actions. Whatever you choose to change must be suited to your personality, abilities & current circumstances.
• Once you’ve made a change, note how it has helped or hindered you. Was it a good, neutral or bad outcome? How does it feel?
• If one revision didn’t work very well, don’t give up. Try others.
• is there any reality to what I’m being told? If you’re not sure, ask someone else – who is safe & trustworthy – did the ‘sender’ provide any alternatives? Were they useful?
• if there is some truth in it, am I interested in making a change?
• is the ‘sender’ simply telling me about themselves – nothing to do with me? Or are they seeing me clearer than I can see myself?
• if I think they may have a point, do I have the courage to ask for more information & suggestions?
• if I don’t agree with the criticism, can I keep my ‘center’ & either not say anything, or just say thanks & drop it?
ACoAs have a hard time knowing the difference between the + & – kind. In either scenario always try to remember that you can use criticism to your advantage.
NEXT: ACoAs Being Negative #1