You’ll never make everybody happy — and the people that aren’t happy are liable to tell you why. Criticism is part of the price of being human. But even though we know that, it’s hard to deal when the negative stuff starts rolling in.
Share an opinion on the internet — or just report some inconvenient facts (ask me how I know) — and you may have hordes of people telling you what a bad person you are. Here’s how to stop criticism from ruining your day.
Accept That It Will Happen
The only way to totally avoid criticism is to simply not let anybody find out that you exist. As soon as you start putting your face, name, writing, or actions out into the world, people will have opinions about you. Nobody, no matter how wildly successful, is universally beloved. Haters gonna hate.
When you think about it that way, getting criticism is a sign that you’re doing something right. You’re putting your work out in public. When I get one of those cringey flashback memories of a time I said or did something stupid, I like to tell myself, I was brave. Maybe I fucked up, but at least I was trying.
Pay Attention to Who Is Giving the Criticism
Do you care about the opinion of the person who’s giving the criticism? If they’re your boss, or your trustworthy friend, that’s different than if they’re just some rando who’s dashing off a mean tweet and didn’t know you existed until 30 seconds before that.
Separate Facts From Interpretation
Even well-meaning criticism has layers of human fallibility between the actual problem and the words or thoughts that come back to you. The other person interprets what you’ve done and they react in their own way; you hear their words and make your own assumptions.
So, imagine describing the problem to a friend in a detached, facts-only way. Tara Sophia Mohr suggests that you take a fact, like “six publishers have rejected my book proposal,” and then come up with multiple interpretations rather than obsessing over the first one that lands in your head.
“Everyone hates it and I suck” can be one of those interpretations, but consider others, like “Maybe I sent it to the wrong publishers” or “Maybe the marketing section needs more research” or “Maybe I need to send it to more than six people.” And then see if you can gather information to narrow down the possibilities.
Know That It Says More About Them Than About You
If somebody chose to criticise you when they didn’t need to, think about what that fact tells you about them. Maybe they wanted to insert themselves into a situation to pretend they have power over what’s going on. Maybe they have delusions that they’re a comedian and that putting people down in public makes them look so funny and smart.
If a topic is controversial or political, any criticism you get on that topic is probably not about you at all. For example, any time I write an article that includes the word “President,” I get emails like this:
Your whole article was PETTY and INSULTING!
Your whole criminal enterprise is over, bitch!
You sir, are a fake news commentator. Stop being a liberal lunatic LMAO! If this was any other President you would be saying how it is such a great idea. Liberal hypocrisy at it’s finest.
This college educated white male is confused over your intent. Pitiful really. I used to hold journalism in esteem. USED to. Articles are like yours are like jock itch.
Those three were in response to an article about how to block “Presidential” emergency alerts, a system that went live this year but was signed into law two Presidents ago. Do these folks care about the alert system? Or me? Nope, they’re just concerned about their identity as part of a team of Trump supporters. Sad!
Find the Grain of Truth
Criticism hurts most when it hits a nerve. You already have some insecurities or self-doubts, and some of them may be legitimate. So if a particular comment really stings, it’s not the comment that’s hurting you, but the way it reminds you of something you already know about yourself.
So throw out the comment, and think about whether this issue is one you need to address on your own. Not because you owe a fix to some random troll or frenemy, but because it’s something you already care about. Tackle it on your own terms.