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Critics show the way

IT IS NORMAL human tendency to turn a deaf ear to an acerbic critic who keeps faulting your performance and basks in the sycophantic compliments of others. Criticism has never gone down well with anyone. One critical remark and we are ready to take offence. Even the slightest hint of censure is taken sullenly or is summarily dismissed. Even constructive criticism always arouses an emotional reaction. So, it is but natural that unwarranted criticism will sting badly. We never ever stop to think if in the long run we may benefit from a little critical appraisal. As Winston Churchill said, `Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.' Unfortunately, we have a propensity to despise the very people we can learn the most from and we pay the price in the form of a career setback.

An honest critic may be considered harsh because he tells it as it is. Often our shortcomings may are not be obvious, looking as we do through rose-tinted glasses. And our friends may be too polite to point them out. Remember King Solomon's words, `It is better to pay heed to the rebuke of a wise man than to listen to the song of fools.'

So, pay heed to that constructive criticism coming your way and you will definitely profit from the experience. After all, if you want the rainbow, you will have to put with the rain too! Here are a few pointers to help you take criticism in your stride and actually learn from it:

Lend him an ear

When someone offers a dissenting opinion, do not try to brush it off, intimidate or shout the person down. Give him a patient hearing so that he can say his piece. Also, try to be objective and not take the criticism personally, else, you will end up feeling discouraged and depressed.

Take it on the chin

Listen carefully so that you get a clear understanding of your critic's comments and pick out points that you think will be useful for your self-development. You can even go a step further and ask specific, open-ended questions to get a complete picture, the reasons for criticism. Also, seek suggestions on how to identify your weaknesses as well as how to improve your performance.

Separate grain from the chaff

Not all criticism is good. Do not blindly follow the person's views as he could be acting with an ulterior motive or have an axe to grind against you. Make sure that the criticism is coming from a person who is respectable and possesses sufficient knowledge and expertise on the subject he is passing judgment on. Also, remember that you do not have to take each and every censure to heart.

Swallow the bitter pill

You have to get off your high horse and humbly acknowledge that you did go wrong. Show that you are open to improvement by sincerely thanking your critic for the invaluable insight. However remember that learning does not end with a mere acceptance of the criticism. You should be flexible and act upon the suggestions to change yourself for the better.

More of the same

What's more, you could set aside your wounded pride and actually go looking for some critical evaluation! If you want you could regularly solicit a critique of your work from knowledgeable, experienced and inspiring superiors to polish your performance to a shine.

There is no getting away from people giving their unwanted advice and criticism. As celebrated American author, Elbert Hubbard's tongue-in-cheek remark goes, `To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.' He may have meant it as a scathing comment but it does spark a thought. Make a practice of it and within no time, you will be getting oodles of criticism - but all positive ones!

PAYAL CHANANIA

faqs@cnkonline.com

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