When you are invested in a task, be it in your professional or professional life, it is always hard to receive criticism on it well. Yet as daunting as it is to detach yourself emotionally from negative feedback, it is important to learn how to do so. The journey to the peak of our career and personal life is as long as it is arduous, hence the better we are at letting disappointment and dejection roll off our backs, the more resilient and endurant we will be. Minda Zetlin from Inc.com shares some tips on how to cope with criticism, constructive or otherwise.
1. Know your own worth.
The more confidence you have in yourself and the value of your work, the less likely you are to feel crushed if someone criticizes what you’ve done or undervalues you or your work. Developing that kind of confidence is difficult and can take time. But it might help you to remember that our brains are wired to focus on the negative, and that you’re probably harder on yourself than you deserve.
So take a moment to think about your own accomplishments. Compare where you were and what you were doing a year ago (or five years ago) to what you’re doing now. This won’t work for everyone, but for many people it’s a useful way to see just how far you’ve come. Have a conversation with someone who likes and respects you, and let them remind you of how awesome you are. Understanding your own value is your best defense when someone makes you feel small.
2. Recognize your own triggers.
All of us have some things that push our buttons and set off reactions that may be out of proportion to reality. Try to be aware of those triggers and how you react to them. I tend to hate feeling like an outsider in a group–probably a leftover from being an only child–so when I feel excluded that makes me particularly crazy. Knowing I have this trigger doesn’t stop me from having those feelings, but I can sometimes catch myself and say, “Wait a second, you’re reacting to the past, not the present.” That gives me a chance to put things into proportion.
3. Set boundaries.
Cohen makes an interesting point: If you set proper boundaries for yourself in both your professional and personal life, you won’t feel as wounded when others reject you or say no to your requests. “Doing too much to please others can lead you to feel overly sensitive when they do something that upsets you,” she writes.
She has a point. I realize it’s when I’ve put myself out for someone else that I feel most infuriated if they won’t do the same. But kindness isn’t a quid pro quo. You should never do a favor for anyone unless you’re willing to do it with no hope of reward. Or else, if you do want a quid pro quo, then state that up front. Sure, you’ll be happy to stay late to help an important customer, so long as you can have the afternoon off next week when your child has a performance.
4. Use logic.
Often, if you can look at a situation calmly and rationally, you will see that the slight or insult that upset you wasn’t really such a big deal, or has an easy explanation. Our rational minds, usually associated with our prefrontal cortex, can often overcome our runaway emotions, especially if the situation doesn’t really warrant them.
So engage your prefrontal cortex by setting yourself a logical task, such as sitting down to work, or planning a project, or even solving a logic puzzle. When I do this, I can often feel the black cloud of rage and hurt simply melt away. It can be a temporary fix–when you stop working you may start feeling upset again. But you can use that time when your rational mind is in control to objectively assess the situation and decide if your reaction is appropriate. You can decide what, if anything, you should do about it.
This post was originally published on Inc.com in February 2018. TheYoungProfessionalGroup.com takes no credit for the work of the author.