There are many things we love to receive: a gift, a pat on the back, a million dollars! Some things we never want to be given: a pink slip, toothache, shark bite, or criticism!
Please, no shark bites. But truth that is criticism can be just what you need to grow. Sure, it doesn’t feel good to have someone call your issues out. We try really hard to debunk what they have said because we don’t want to feel the shame that comes over us for being flawed. We do not like to have our issues called out, but truth is, criticism is good for us when it is given in the right spirit, coming from someone whose motive is pure and gracious.
Criticism gives great perspective. One person said, “Criticism polishes my mirror.” It makes things that are fuzzy in my perception of myself come into focus. We often have blind spots and don’t realize how we are perceived, what our facial expressions communicate, how what we say is taken, and many other things that we do not realize people are seeing as flaws in us.
When someone has the courage to reveal it to us in love, we would be foolish to disregard or discredit what they are saying. We should receive it humbly and thankfully. Some of my biggest moments of growth came when someone cared enough about me to tell me the truth, and I received it. Sure it stung, but I grew because they said it and I had the courage to receive it.
Here are some things to consider when receiving constructive criticism:
1) Do not take it personally. If they care about you, they are not attacking you personally or trying to hurt you. They want to help you.
2) Feedback makes you stronger. One of the most valuable gifts, and one given sparingly in complete honesty, is feedback. Feedback that is critical might hurt our pride, but ultimately, we should want to be better and not deceived into thinking we are better than we are. Hurt my pride before you let me keep making the same mistake over and over again!
3) It expands your perspective. You just can’t see things sometimes. They are just out of your peripheral vision. Until someone points it out, you don’t realize certain things about you. If you are hypersensitive and insecure, you will run from criticism because you can’t face the fact that you are flawed. This is tragic, though, as you miss opportunity to increase your range of sight and see yourself more clearly.
4) It challenges our people-pleasing. This is a big one for me, personally. When someone contradicts me, I do not need to see that as persecution. It is exhausting trying to live for the approval of everyone. Being able to give and receive criticism is a way of living healthier in your relationships.
5) It deepens your relationship and trust. When someone has the courage to approach you in love and critique you, and you respond correctly, I guarantee your relationship will grow to a deeper, more trusting level. That is a person you want to keep close to you. It is a rare find, a friend like that.
Let me sum it up: If you are not open to constructive criticism, then you are not open to growing as a person.