How do you handle constructive criticism?

| August 29, 2014 | 0 Comments



Chaplain (Capt.)  Jeffery B. Herden
1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team
25th Infantry Division
Has anyone ever criticized you? Have you ever been publicly criticized?



Whether the critic’s intentions were good or bad, we all know what it’s like to be criticized.

One of our greatest difficulties is how to handle criticism in a positive way. We have faced it all our lives.

For example, have you ever received a C- on your first essay in English class or the embarrassment after a coach yells at you for being out of position?

Then there’s the granddaddy of them all: getting dumped by your girl- or boyfriend. Yikes!

Naturally, everyone would rather hear praise than criticism. Yet, at times, criticism is vitally needed.

What comes out of us when we are corrected reveals much about our hearts. I have seen leaders of various organizations respond to criticism both positively and negatively, and in each case, it gave a window into the character of those individuals.

I’m the first to admit that, by default, my most natural response to criticism is to summon my inner defense attorney — “I object your honor!” If we follow our instincts, we will tend to be defensive and not listen to the critique.

Our defensiveness is greatly aided by criticism that is imbalanced or harshly delivered. In other words, when the critique sounds more attacking and judgmental, and when it’s intentionally harsh and never balanced by words of affirmation, it makes the medicine of well-intentioned criticism that much harder to accept.

If we are the critics, we should try to deliver criticism in a way that’s constructive and caring to the hearer.


How should we respond to criticism?

Perhaps it’s best to begin by asking some other questions: What are we striving for in life? Do we genuinely want to improve at our crafts? Do we want to grow as Soldiers, friends, husbands and wives? Can we all humbly admit that we have a long way to go to become the people we ought to be?
In that light, a critic is more the friend and less the enemy, because he gives us insight that can help us grow. The proverb, above, reminds us that if wisdom is our highest goal, we will actually appreciate those who seek to correct us. Those rebukes give us a more accurate picture of ourselves and pave the way for personal and professional growth.

With the right attitude, you can receive even ill-timed or unfair criticism and find the nuggets of truth that will help you grow. Even if it’s totally inaccurate, handling it with humility and not getting defensive, with counterattacks, will help us down the path toward maturity.

All of this is easier said than done. I found that by depending on God for his wise counsel and by knowing that I don’t have all the answers, that Scripture and wise people in my life can teach me the rest for my own growth.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood, even when it comes to your critics. If you do, it’s sure to help you grow personally and improve your marriage, your organization and your most important relationships.

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Category: Footsteps in Faith, News, Standing Columns

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