The Thing About Critics

The Thing About Critics

We all have them.  Some are more vocal than others.  Some are harsher and meaner than others.  Some have good motives and some have downright mean motives.  Critics.  Haters.  Debbie Downers.

They could be the people that post a hateful comment on Facebook about an article you’ve written on your blog.  They could be the co-worker who shares their opinions about the quality of your work too often.  They could be the person that talks about you behind your back and refuses to talk to you directly.  They are literally all around us.

But, here’s the thing about critics: you always have a choice about how you react to their criticism.  You can choose to engage them in debate or try to get back at them and fight fire with fire.  Or, you can ignore them…handle their criticism passive-aggressively…or allow it to affect who you are or what you do.

BECAUSE:

  • Critics will always be there.

As much as I would like to dream that there will be a day where everyone will love me and no one will ever find an opposing view to my own, it is just that, a dream.  There will be Democrats and Republicans…Christians and atheists…introverts and extroverts…etc. etc.  In our world of hyper-connectedness, our views and beliefs are out there like never before.  A simple post on social media about an experience at McDonalds can bring about the most heated arguments and criticism.  Critics are out there – evaluating our words, actions, and appearance – and there is very little we can do rid the world of their opinions of us.

  • Critics will always have something to criticize.  

If we dig deep enough, we can find things to criticize about those that we love and admire most.  How much easier is it then for a complete stranger or someone who is loosely connected to you to find something that they don’t like about you or your actions?  I’ve found that those that criticize the most are often life-long criticizers.  It makes them feel better about themselves in some way.  It hides their own insecurities to criticize others.  It’s like a drug that helps them forget about their own shortcomings.  And, when someone is a hater, they will work hard to find other reasons to not like you or your approach.

  • Critics are rarely satisfied.  

Even the most intelligent debate with a critic seldomly leads to them admitting that their critique of you was wrong and an apology happening. Their perception is their reality and there is often very little we can do to change their perception of you or your actions.  The truth doesn’t matter and is often viewed as inaccurate or somehow biased when you try to present an explanation.  Critics are regularly in it for other reasons than giving you a chance to defend your point of view.  Their satisfaction comes from pointing out how inadequate, incapable, or insufficient you or your work are.

As I’m writing this post I realize how bleak it sounds…and that’s not my intent here.  There are times to stand up to critics and haters and I would encourage you to recognize and take advantage of those times.  But, I’ve far too often witnessed people who allow critics to affect them in unhealthy ways.  Critics cause people to worry to the point they can’t sleep.  Critics cause very good leaders to second guess the direction their leading the organization.  Critics cause talented individuals to think that their work is less than what it really is.

How do you handle haters?  What’s your reaction when you’re criticized?  Comment below and let me know some ways you’ve successfully handled a critic…

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2 thoughts on “The Thing About Critics

  1. Todd Deckard

    It can be really hard to do but I try to recognize anything I can learn from the critique and all the unhealthiness around it, I just attribute to a hurting person. Hurting people hurt people. And most of the time, critics make their critiques from the sidelines. I would rather be in the fight than sitting in my armchair running color commentary on it.

  2. My Toastmasters club has been talking recently about this word and others associated with it. Interesting to me that when we all watched Siskel and Ebert (the movie ‘critics’) review a movie, we saw many times a ‘thumbs up’ from one and a ‘thumbs down’ from the other. What they were doing amounted to a ‘critique.’

    We simply do not like the word: critic. Admit it: it seems to always have a negative connotation.

    People who review, evaluate, critique and yes, even offer criticism, can be helpful as well as not so helpful.
    We always think (because of our egos I’m sure) that any criticism is all negative. But I’ve found in Toastmasters and in my writers’ group that constructive criticism can be handled well. IF we get ourselves out the way and listen with an open mind.
    We must also remember the person criticizing may have an axe to grind. That’s a battle best not fought.
    Thanks for the post. Your comments on how to handle haters are appreciated.

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