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How to take criticism

Criticism is something that most of us have a hard time taking. Usually, a critical comment or conversation can send us down the rabbit hole of self loathing. Alternatively, it can bring out all our anger and push back toward the criticizer, thus deepening the already existing chasm.

I've been reading Harriet Lerner's book titled "The Dance of Connection, "and I came across this list for taking criticism that I thought was so powerful and wanted to share with you:

10 Do's and Don'ts

1. Listen attentively to the person who is criticizing you without planning your reply. 2. Ask questions about whatever you don't understand. 3. Avoid getting defensive. Don't listen in order to argue or refute. Instead, listen for the piece of criticism you can agree with, even if it's embedded in exaggerations and inaccuracies. 4. Apologize for that piece first. 5. Never criticize a person who is criticizing you. There may be a time to bring up your own grievances, but that time is not when the other person has taken the initiative to voice his/her own complaints. 6. Stay calm. Underreact and take a low-key approach when dealing with the other person. Anxiety and intensity are the driving forces behind dysfunctional patterns. 7. State your differences ("Here's the piece I don't agree with ...") only after you do so without criticizing, blaming, or putting down the criticizer. 8. Stop a nonproductive conversation that is occurring at your own expense. It's fine to say, "I need a little time to think about what you're saying. Let's set up another time to discuss it." Or, "I feel diminished when you talk to me this way." Or, "I need you to bring up just one criticism at a time. When you start bringing up the past or list one thing after another, I shut down and can't listen." 9. Speak to the really important issues - and let the rest go. 10. When you're in the grip of strong emotions, remember this reversal of an old maxim: "Don't just do something. Stand there!"


P.S. Is there a topic you'd like to see a blog post about? Or something you're specifically struggling with that you'd like insight on? I'd love to hear from you!

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