How To Handle Criticism Like A Millionaire
“The only way to avoid criticism is to say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” –
The surest way to know whether or not your life is going down a worthy path is to gauge the amount of feedback you get, especially the criticism. Successful people are without a doubt the most criticized people on earth and that’s because, for everything they’ve ever attempted, they were capable of handling the criticism they received, whether it was constructive or not. This resulted in their continued success which meant even bigger projects with even more critics.
For every worthwhile project you shoulder you’ll be dealing with those who think you should do this thing or that thing or that you’re just flat out wrong. Unless you want to say nothing, do nothing and be nothing (as Elbert Hubbard said), fielding more than your fair share of criticism is unavoidable.
And since it’s unavoidable, you should take the time to learn how to handle criticism like the millionaires do so that you can go on to create project after successful project.
Justified Criticism vs. Unjustified Criticism
As much as we would like to believe everyone has the best intentions, it’s simply not true. Some criticism holds much more weight than other criticism.
Justified Criticism is any criticism which offers constructive feedback. It doesn’t just call you out on something that’s wrong (or at least perceived to be wrong), it actually gives you some idea of what to do going forward that will correct it. Justified Criticism is usually spoken strongly, but fairly and with a reasonable tone.
- with the utmost respect.
- by someone who is considered to be an expert in the subject.
- by several different people, usually without their knowing one another.
- with good intentions.
- by someone who has reasonable standards.
- with an accompaniment of possible solutions.
Unjustified Criticism is any criticism which only serves to attack the character of a person or the quality of their work. It’s usually given with a hateful tone and is petty and unhelpful.
An Unjustified Criticism will typically be given:
- with little to no respect or courtesy.
- with an arrogant or condescending attitude.
- without any significant problem stated.
- without any helpful insights if a significant problem is stated.
- by someone who has accomplished little or nothing in the way of what you consider to be success.
- by someone with unreasonably high standards that they don’t even apply to themselves.
Both types of criticism are fairly common. In my experience, you are more likely to get well-intentioned criticism. Whether a person has correctly identified and assessed a problem or not, most people will bring it up purely to be helpful. Hateful criticism is more likely in anonymous forums or comment sections.
How to Deal with Unjustified Criticism
All criticism can be tough to deal with, but Unjustified Criticism can be even more so because the goal of someone who criticizes unjustifiably isn’t to improve your behaviors, your plans or your actions, but to call attention to your faults and to attack you personally.
Before dealing with Unjustified Criticism, make sure it is really unjustified. It’s easy to regard a critique of personal behaviors, attitudes or actions as a personal attack in the heat of the moment. Try to look at things from the critic’s standpoint. Be humble and ask yourself honestly if what the critic is saying could possibly be true and realize that even well-intentioned people can find themselves incapable of eloquently and respectfully communicating an honest-to-goodness truth.
If you’re unsure of whether the critic is well-intentioned or not, it might be helpful to initiate a friendly dialogue to find out more. Email them a friendly note asking for more information about the criticism and why they feel the way that they do. If you’re nice and the person actually was well-intentioned, you’ll have responded appropriately. If you’re nice and the person is ill-intentioned, there’s a good chance you’ll defuse their hate. It’s hard to insult those who are kind to you.
However, if it’s clear from the beginning that the critic is attacking you personally, you’ll probably be forced into a fight or flight mode. Personally, I believe either option can work so long as it’s respectful, but I prefer flight. If you choose to fight, refute their assertions and move on. Don’t bother bickering with them through a series of emails. It’s just a waste of your time. Choosing “flight” is the much better option since you can save the time of writing even one email to someone whose mind you won’t change. Just ignore the person. They’ll likely go away.
How to Deal with Justified Criticism
First, you need to understand that not all Justified Criticism is an accurate criticism. Some people might make judgements based on a worldview that you just don’t comprehend or can’t agree with. For example, if you wanted to start a business and your family criticized your decision with statistics on the failure rate of startups and a respectful lecture about how it will put your spouse or children at risk and make your future too uncertain, this would be a perfectly valid criticism. However, if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, this criticism just doesn’t cut it. You’re not afraid of risk because you aren’t thinking “Well, what can I lose?” You’re thinking “What can I gain?”
If you find a criticism to be both justified and accurate, the best way to respond is with agreement and gratitude. You should never under any circumstances feel sorry for yourself or apologize for your criticized behavior or action. No one is perfect and you’re no exception. Even better, your critic has opened a door for improvement and probably done the hard work of figuring out how you should proceed with things. Even if their solution doesn’t work out or isn’t appropriate, it’s a step in the right direction and will hopefully motivate you to take a deeper look at the problem and see about how you can correct it.
The Benefits of Properly Handling Criticism
Knowing how to separate Justified Criticism from Unjustified Criticism and, then, how to separate accurate criticism from inaccurate criticism will only result in the growth and success of your project. Whether it’s product development or the creation of a company or anything else, having the right attitude about criticism and knowing when to run with it and when to discard it will result in a faster adaptation of the most effective methods and the best ideas.