Criticism: Why Does it Sting?

Criticism: Why Does it Sting?

“Honest criticism is hard to take,
particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger.”

~ Franklin P. Jones

Does it bother you when someone says something negative about your work, your appearance, your words? Even when you’ve asked for constructive criticism – invited it?!?! What about disapproval; the silent criticism. It can be a look, a gesture, an awkward silence following a question. Does criticism bother you?

I’m working on the manuscript of my first book. Nineteen people have agreed to read it and give me feedback. I want feedback but when the comments are negative, I am like a child who wants to run and hide. Instead, I hide how I feel and wade through a myriad of awful feelings wondering how the criticism can sting that much!

I pick up the phone and call a friend, you know the friend; the one with whom you solve all the problems of the world during each visit or phone call? Don’t you see, she says, this is what I was going through yesterday. I see it now. Yesterday she had called me to discuss something that was bothering her and I had been her sounding board. Now she returns the advice I gave her, polished with experience and organized. This, she says, is how she deals with criticism.

1) Telephone or visit a good friend. Pour it all out so you can be heard, feel understood, and be validated.

2) Ground yourself in who you are and what your intentions are. You’ve heard one opinion; what’s yours? It feels bad and you’re upset so it’s hard to see the issue clearly but who says this opinion is 100% accurate? What parts are valid and what parts can you discard? What parts can instruct?

3) Remind yourself that in time you will benefit from the criticism. You will be stronger, better, faster (yes- like superman!)

Can you go directly from the criticism to the last step without going through the bad feelings, I ask. She doesn’t believe it’s possible. The bad feelings force you to pay attention to what’s going on, she says. Without them we wouldn’t “get it”; we’d miss the opportunity for growth the situation offers.

How do you deal with criticism in your life? Do you believe you can get the benefits without the sting?

photo credit: Pasukaru76

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About The Author


I am passionate about writing and community building. I’ve written a book about healing and happiness, The Happy Place, as well as a Community Building book, Sounding the Drum: Community Building in the Digital Age, now available at any Amazon store. I’ve been through life changes that I thought were the end of my world, but I’m still here. I never know what will happen next. Isn’t that what makes life interesting?