If you’re a parent, you know the terror I felt. My family was enjoying an outdoor craft fair near a busy intersection. As my wife and I looked at some artwork, something caught our toddler’s attention, and she darted toward the busy street. I bolted, grabbed her arm, and pulled her away from the road. She was startled and began to cry. I got down on one knee, hugged her, and explained that running in the road is very dangerous. I told her Daddy loves her, and she should never do that again. A stranger saw the whole thing happen and was concerned, too. He walked over to me. “You grabbed her arm too forcefully,” he critiqued. “You needed to know that.”
Truthfully, I don’t remember how much force I used to grab my daughter’s arm. All I remember is wanting to make sure she didn’t get crushed by a car. It’s important to know how to deal with criticism, but given what could have happened had I not intervened, should I care about that nosy stranger’s opinion? Not a chance. But did I? Yeah. For a few minutes, I couldn’t shake his sharp words. But I shouldn’t have let it bother me. Sometimes criticism is worth taking. Other times, it isn’t. Here are 3 types of people whose criticism shouldn’t have power.Sometimes criticism is worth taking. Other times, it isn’t.
1. Biased Critics
Parents concerned about possible injuries may opt to keep their kids off the football field when they are young. The coach next door may call that decision “weak” or “soft.” If your neighbor belittles your decision to keep your son off the team, don’t take it too seriously. People tend to look out for themselves and suggest whatever is in their best interests.
If you are met with criticism from people who would directly benefit from your failure, don’t give their words weight. Biased critics wear self-colored glasses. Their slant on life blinds them. Take this into account when deciding how to deal with criticism. You can let their opposition cripple you, or recognize that you are catching heat because their vision is skewed.
2. Disrespectful Critics
I tend to respect people as a baseline courtesy. As a fellow human being, I’m going to try to treat you well. That’s hard to do when you become disrespectful.
There was a baseball coach I really wanted to respect. I was a teen and he was an authority figure. Day in and day out, I tried my hardest to respect him, even though he routinely spoke poorly about women and cursed in front of high schoolers. He would yell at me over the slightest of poor performances. I knew I was giving my all during games, and the opinion of a disrespectful person wasn’t going to make me play any harder. An opinion becomes irrelevant to you if the person giving it puts you down, lies, cheats, or steals.
3. Unqualified Critics
I’ve never cooked dinner for Wolfgang Puck, but I would definitely welcome his criticism of my steak and potatoes over my vegan neighbor’s. Puck has the credentials to critique a meal. He’s one of the most famous and well-respected chefs on the planet. He knows more about preparing meat than I do, so I should want to hear what he has to say about my grilling technique. My leaf-eating neighbor? Not so much. Consider if the source has any knowledge of your subject when fielding criticism. You’ll save yourself from trying to please everyone, and it’ll help you learn how to deal with criticism.
Sound off: When does criticism impact your decision-making most?
Huddle up with your family and ask, “When do you see outside voices influencing me?”