I have a friend – let’s call her Flossie. Her brand new, modern, shiny white kitchen has just been installed and she is LOVING it!
She’s happily sampling paint colours on the walls - deep aubergine, dark moss green, navy blue - when her friend comes to visit. She looks at the colour samples on the wall and says: "Those colours are far too dark, they will make the room seem really bleak. You should use something bright and sunny".
What do you do?
Dealing with criticism is enough to make you want to run and hide, isn’t it? Or, alternatively want to rip someones throat out.
As neither of these responses are helpful, let’s take a look at whether this criticism is good, bad or ugly and how to handle it:
All criticism is not created equal - here's The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Of Criticism.
Some well intentioned and well delivered criticism is very useful, and can be very helpful if we take note of it. Flossie was able to reflect on her decision to consider the natural light available in the room. She might not change her mind, but can make a more informed decision.
Some criticism is insensitive. A choice of colour is a purely personal decision, and their opinion doesn’t matter.
Some criticism is nasty, and can be passive aggressive or just downright aggressive. They want to cause embarrassment and humiliation, and to pull you down.
In this case, to undermine Flossie, to ridicule her choices and make her feel stupid for even considering such a dark colour.
This type of criticism I like to call the "Mother In Law" criticism.
Have you ever watched "Everybody Loves Raymond"? If you have, you’ll know Marie is the mother in law from hell. Nothing Debra, the daughter in law, does is right, yet the criticism is done with a smile and under the guise of love. "I’m just trying to help you, dear".
So what’s the best way to deal with this type of malicious criticism?
![danger, cliffs edge sign](images/content/danger-cliff-edge
First, take a big, deep breath to calm yourself. This isn’t the time to get angry and let your emotions take over - you can reflect on that later. Right now, calmness is the way to go.
Something that works really well in this situation is a technique called "fogging". Fogging involves agreeing with them to a point, but not changing what you do.
Related: How to Say NO More Often.
Flossies response might be:
- "These are very dark colours aren’t they? You’re right, a brighter colour would reflect the light more".
Then, continue to paint the walls the colour she’d originally chosen.
The beauty of this response is you have remained calm, and by agreeing with your friend in principle it takes the wind out of her sails. She hasn’t managed to upset you, she hasn’t scored a point against you. Result.
Message from Guided Mind: Think highly of yourself, be more optimistic, courageous and foucsed with our Positive Thinking guided meditation collection.
We can’t eliminate criticism from our lives, but we can learn how to stay calm, take from it anything of value and disregard the rest. I’d love to hear how you got on with the fogging technique - let me know in the comments!
Jane Travis has been in the business of helping people for over 10 years. She works with women who are givers and people pleasers, who have become so used to being all things to all people they have become lost and exhausted. She uses her professional skills, training and experience to help them learn about themselves, and to take the theory out of self care. Because if you don’t know what your needs are – how can they be met?
If you are ready for more happiness in your everyday life, get Jane’s FREE download "The Busy Persons Guide To Self Reflection".