Life balance–coping with criticism and complaints (Proceedings)


The effects of criticism are dependent on who is giving it – and your relationship to that person. Our world view and understanding is filtered through words. Of all the strategies which handle criticism effectively, the most important is to figure out accurately what the problem is. Be prepared to ask questions to clarify what is wanted or expected.

Making lemonade out of lemons (while keeping your self esteem intact)

      1. Think of a moment of time when you were at your personal best, when everything was going just the way you wanted it. Be there in that situation.

      2. See what you see - the shapes, colors, objects, or people.

      3. Hear any sounds you hear around you. Notice what you say to yourself inside at that moment of time.

      4. Feel the feelings inside you. Memorize that feeling.

      5. Imagine a circle in which you will create that image of your most capable, competent self. Make it colorful, vivid, clear, 3D, bright, and life-sized.

      6. When it looks just as you want it, step into it. Align your posture to match that in the picture. Discover how the world looks from that perspective. Feel the feelings inside that competent, excellent self. Memorize that feeling.

      7. Step back outside that circle.

      8. Once again make the image even brighter and more colorful; more focused, more relevant for you, and step into it.

      9. Feel those good feelings even more intensely.

      10. Repeat steps 7 and 8 once more.

      11. Imagine that you can reach down and pull up that positive energy all around you that you can carry with you as you go through your day or evening.

      12. Leave an even brighter image of you at your best out there as your future goal. Memorize that good feeling when you look at it, and remind yourself that you can have this circle of excellence whenever you choose.

      13. Take a few moments now to think of a time when you want to have this "excellent" resource.

      14. It is yours, and no one can take it away from you.

      • A criticism is a verbal (or written) signal that something is wrong and needs attention.

      • Self-Respect and Respect for others are critical keys to handling criticism.

      • Change is inevitable: Change exercise.

      • Self-confidence is the major antidote to taking criticism personally and letting it get you down.

Circle of excellence exercise: (handouts)

The effects of criticism are dependent on who is giving it – and your relationship to that person.

Our world view and understanding is filtered through words. Of all the strategies which handle criticism effectively, the most important is to figure out accurately what the problem is. Be prepared to ask questions to clarify what is wanted or expected.

Handling hostility:

You are not required to listen to rude behavior or insults. That's not criticism, it's just hostility.

Guidelines for handling complaints and criticism

      1. Listen carefully to what the complainer is saying. Repeat back to the best of your ability your understanding of what was said.

      2. Acknowledge the positive intentions behind the complaint.

      3. Accentuate the positive aspects of the person's worth. Make them feel important.

      4. Begin and end on a positive note.

      5. Ask for specific suggestions for improvement in performance rather than just feeling badly taking in negative comments.

      6. If the criticism becomes personal, stay calm, "Whether or not you think I am a "stupid idiot" will not improve the problem or fix the situation. What suggestions do you believe will actually address the issue?"

Guidelines for giving criticism

      1. When you give criticism, criticize the behavior, not the individual.

      2. Stay calm and unemotional when criticizing.

      3. Offer a possible solution or resolution to the problem.

      4. Let the person know it's OK to make a mistake, provided something is learned from it.

      5. Be specific!

      6. Be non-judgmental and objective: "It's my observation that..."

Handling Criticism with Tact and Competence (handouts)

Handling criticism with tact and competence

      1. Connect with your own sense of competence or excellence (Circle of Excellence)

      2. Repeat back what you think the other person has said to verify the accuracy of the complaint, or to determine if there is just a misunderstanding about the situation which can be clarified.

      3. Have this excellent self make a picture of yourself being criticized.

      4. That best self will now make two pictures side by side in your mind's eye. The first is a picture of what the new behavior or needed responses might look like and sound like if implemented as suggested. The second is a picture of what you recall having done. Compare them. (From an attitude of curiosity, look for any information or feedback which would have some usefulness for you.)

      5. If the criticism does not contain enough information for you to make an accurate image of the behavior which is preferred, ask specific questions to give you more and better information. "What is it that you could suggest that I do to improve or do things differently?" This requires the critic to come up with alternatives which could fix the problem. "Tell me more about exactly what you mean, so I understand which part of the project has problems." or "What suggestions do you have to do it better?"

      6. Pretend you can step into the picture and see yourself as a competent person implementing the suggestions as you continue to feel safe and secure. Maintain an open mind to discover if the suggestions have merit or possibilities. Imagine putting your own stamp on implementing those suggestions.

      7. Evaluate the suggestions and decide your future course of action. You may decide to give the suggestions a worthy effort before making any decisions. Thank the person for the valuable feedback and proceed to use your own judgment.

      8. If no suggestions are made, you can ignore the criticism as being undeserved or just mean-spirited. Your response could be "If you can't suggest any positive alternatives which would fix your criticism, it's very difficult for me to know what to do differently." Keep asking questions for clarification and explanation. Then don't give it a second thought.

      9. "Thank you for your feedback. I'll consider the ways I can put your suggestions to use."

      10. Check with your inner wisdom to see if any part of you has any concern or objection to your using this strategy to change your response to criticism.

Create good will. "Make me feel important".

      • Remember a time when you had a complaint or criticism.

      • Feel the emotions that generated your complaint when your expectations were not met: Frustration, aggravation, or disappointment?

      • Take a deep breath. Imagine how it would feel if the situation were reversed. You can share that observation with the complainer. "I'm sure that makes sense. I would probably feel the same way if the situation were reversed." (Very respectful)

      • Find some point or position the other person has made, with which you agree. This reduces hostility and open up the door to cooperation.

      • Remember, there are times when you can't help a complainer or critic. Some people are just not going to see it your way. According to a Jamaican proverb, "Those who can't dance, say the music is no good."

Tricks of the trade!

      1. Success in the world depends on building positive relationships with colleagues, clients and significant others in your life. React with reason – even when you're ready to blow a fuse!

      2. Transform your "good intentions" into reality to meet your goals. Focus on finding out what kind of outcome would indicate success, and how it could be confirmed to everyone's satisfaction.

      3. Achieving poise, confidence and assertiveness is required on a daily basis even if – or when - others act like jerks.

      4. Move to a problem-solving mode by asking specific informational questions. Remember to acknowledge any way in which you agree with their ideas.

      5. Brainstorm ideas for relevant, practical solutions. Illustrate in practical terms how the proposed solutions or alternatives will work. What are some obstacles you might encounter, and how would you deal with them?

      6. Write down what you both have agreed to do to solve the concern, and give everyone a copy. It will keep the memories fresh. Those who complain are likely to "remember" more services or accommodations than you might have agreed to do.

      7. Set a reasonable time line in which to accomplish these outcomes.

Pattern interruption exercise:

Think of a situation in which you experienced criticism. Please avoid the most traumatic event of your life. Make a 30 second movie of that situation. As you see it, you will feel the emotional effects of that experience. Pay attention to your body sensations. Give those feelings an arbitrary rank of 10 on a discomfort scale of 1-10. We are going to change some aspects of the movie and discover how your feelings change. After each change, check to see how much the stress of the criticism is reduced.

      1. Run the movie twice as fast.

      2. Run the movie backwards.

      3. If the voice in your movie is loud and fast, reduce the volume and slow it down to a drawl. If it is high pitched, change it to a baritone.

      4. Think of your favorite sitcom, (whether it's: "I Love Lucy, Seinfeld, Friends, or even South Park). Pick out a memorable scene, and insert this into the middle of your movie, and run your movie to the end.

      5. Run the movie with circus music in the background.

      6. Now run the original movie again and find out how it feels now.

When you get serious about something, it usually means that you have become so immersed in a situation that you are stuck with only one way of perceiving it. Humor is a way to break out of that trap by looking at it differently, from a different angle. Objectivity and perspective allows one to find that humor in the situation. Look for it and celebrate it.

Related Videos
© 2023 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.