If you’re doing anything worthwhile, chances are that at some stage you will come in for criticism. 

Some will be face to face, some will be anonymous.  In this day and age, much of it will be on-line, either as a hurtful comment on your blog or an attack on your credibility on someone else’s site.  No matter how it’s delivered, if you don’t have techniques to deal with it, it can all hurt and prevent you from achieving all that you are meant to achieve.

Here are a few tips to help you cope with criticism:

Don’t wrestle with pigs.  I recently read an excellent post from Michael Hyatt’s blog with this title and it has stayed with me since.  The saying goes, “If you wrestle with pigs, you both get dirty and the pigs like it.”  The premise here is to not get dragged into a debate with people who want to bring you down.  Smile nicely and walk away from any potentially messy confrontation.

Ex-AFL coach Denis Pagan once said, “Never argue with a fool for too long, after a while no-one can tell the difference.”  It’s good advice.  You can waste a lot of energy trying to defend yourself against people who want to bring you down.  It rarely helps, so just keep focussing on doing great work.

Look for any truth.  Whilst it can be tempting to completely discount your critics, a sign of maturity is to make sure that you assess yourself to see if there was any truth to the assessment that came your way.  Did you bring it on yourself?  Were you insensitive to the other person?  Was there something else you could have done that may have still yielded a good result without causing offence?

Remind yourself that you must be doing something right.  If people are coming up against you and constantly criticising you it can become draining and can damage your confidence.  A resourceful way of looking at it is to remind yourself that you must be doing something right to get the attention of complainers. 

If you’re not coming under fire, that doesn’t mean that you should start offending people just to get some attention, but perhaps you are playing it too safe.

Surround yourself with a supportive network.  When I say supportive network, I don’t mean a bunch of yes-men who will agree with everything you say and defend you against any and all criticism.  I mean people who know you well enough to tell you when you have got it wrong and who can encourage and build you up when they can see that you are letting the battle get to you.  Leadership isn’t meant to be done alone, so having a supportive group around you can make a big difference.

If you are a leader or successful person in any field, you can count on receiving your share of unfair criticism.  The important thing is not to allow your great work to be diminished, altered or tainted by those who just want to bring you down.  Hopefully these tips help you to cope a bit better.

What’s your best tip for coping with criticism?

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