The best way to handle criticism depends on the type of criticism. And who it’s coming from.
Generally, there are 3 types of criticism. The way you handle the feedback will depend upon the situation. And your temprament.
1. Constructive feedback
When starting something new, you will inevitably get feedback. And if you are asking the right people, some feedback will be negative. People who are knowledgeable and care about you, will be honest. And the more they know, the more negative they may seem. It’s hard to do, but listen. It’s much better to deal with criticism early, when you can do something about it, rather than later, when it may be too late.
Also, people who only flatter you, are not helping. If your idea has an obvious and fixable hole, and someone tells you it’s flawless, their positive feedback is hurting you. Surround yourself with people who test your ideas. Don’t only listen to people who tell you what you want to hear. Pleasant “yes men” are more dangerous than the jerk who tells you the brutal truth you need to hear.
How to handle constructive criticism
Listen and ask questions. It may not be what you want to hear, but be open. If they don’t like the idea, ask them bluntly, “what do you think can be improved?”
If you don’t agree with the criticism, tell them you appreciate their candor. Then tell them you need some time to think about what they said. Then quickly move on. Don’t get defensive.
If you’re doing something big, people will be jealous. The bigger you aim, the harder they may want you to fail. If you are threatening someone or the status quo, jealous people will be aggressive, unpleasant, and negative. They want you to quit.
How to handle jealousy
Try not to talk to this person. If they are family, or someone you have to deal with, change the subject. Don’t sweat their negativity. Zone out. When they talk, act like you are listening. But think about something else.
Jealous people will sap your energy. Their goal is to distract you–so don’t let them. Don’t waste your time arguing with them, or fueling their fire. You need to keep focused on what matters.
Many people say not to take criticism personally. This is easier said than done, especially when you are trying to create something new. One way that many help is to imagine yourself as a 3rd party looking in on the situation. You may find yourself less biased if you try to remove yourself from the situation—even if temporarily.
3. Haters going to hate
Some people are just negative. They enjoy playing devil’s advocate. And no matter what you do, they will criticize. Wouldn’t you rather be hated for a big idea, rather then your choice of clothing?
How to handle haters
Passively agree with them! Haters want a fight, so don’t give it to them. If they bring up something negative, say “you have a point.” Then shut up. They want a debate, so don’t give it to them. Haters are just wired that way, and it has nothing to do with you.
This question originally appeared on Quora: What is the best way to handle negative criticism?
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