For most of us having unjust criticism leveled at us is incredibly frustrating, upsetting and sometimes soul crushing. It’s not an easy thing to deal with. Some people even struggle to deal with just criticism or constructive criticism. This post is going to look solely at unjust criticism.
You’re working your ass off in work, you’re sweating from running up and down stairs, restocking shelves, serving customers and cleaning the floor and you see one of your colleagues standing around doing absolutely sweet F.A. and s/he’s complaining about hating work etc. This becomes a daily event and you are angry with them but say nothing because you aren’t the manager and you’re happy to just work away on your own anyway. Then comes review day and your manager absolutely hammers you, gives you an awful review, picks on one area that isn’t even your area and destroys you over it! Then lazy bones gets out and has received a glowing review. How do you feel?
This very story happened to me when I worked in a store in which I had won sales awards and built up a rapport with many customers. Three managers before this one always gave me top reviews because of my work ethic and again I had won awards for sales out of all the stores in the entire country! This one manager comes in and has a few problems with me for no good reason. Mocks me for being better than him at maths, mocks me behind my back for reading in the lunchroom, mocks me for being in university etc. He had a real bee in his bonnet regarding me and when review day came I had had enough of him. I have far too much self respect to be treated like muck while I’m making a company thousands of Euro every week in my sales.
So I went to the manager mentioned the review he gave my idle coworker and he defended his position which is his right. So I told him on the spot ‘I quit’. He told me I couldn’t, he’d have me for breach of contract etc. I told him to take me to court and I’d have him done for bullying and harassment. I never received my court summons and the shop struggled to replace me. The person who replaced me was caught stealing from the till. I on the other hand finished university, found other odd ways of making money (BLOGGING!) and did some travelling.
So unjust criticism. You will be told by many people that sometimes in life you have to put up with shit off of others but the reality is that you don’t. If you love your job and you have to work with an absolute dickhead that’s what I call a tasty shit sandwich. You will put up with that person being a twat because you love what you do and every job on earth has it’s downfalls. But it matters what type of shit sandwich do you like? If you hate your job, quit. ‘I have responsibilities’, then get another job. If you are earning minimum wage or close to it you can quit your job because there’s literally thousands of minimum wage jobs available. Just hit the pavement and go looking. Then when you get one, quit the job you hate.
Now the real stuff, quitting a job to escape a horrible manager is fine. But most of the painful unjust criticism you will get in life won’t be from a manager. It’ll be from friends, family, teachers etc. I have found for me that I will ask someone to explain themselves if they criticise me in a way I feel unjust. I hate being criticised by people mostly because I avoid criticising others because I am myself a very flawed man, just like them. So I find criticism is often an ego stroking game.
I ask them to explain their criticism. I ask it calmly, I listen to what they have to say carefully and I process exactly what they’ve said. After this I will consider what I’ve processed and then I’ll defend myself in a calm way without resorting to a pissing contest with them.
What I’ve found is when asked to explain a criticism the vast majority of people will actually struggle to explain it or they’ll avoid explaining themselves at all costs. When either of these things happen I know what they said is total bullshit and that they are well aware that it is and by me questioning them it lets them know that I know that it’s bullshit. That often is enough for both me and them.
But an even less confrontational way to deal with unjust criticism and it’s one I practice myself as much as I can is to just let their criticism wash over you. We all love a pat on the back, we love to have our achievements recognised and celebrated. And therefore we react to criticism and mockery in a very negative way. We will often put more value in the word of a stranger than the truth we know about ourselves. It’s insane but it’s what occurs in a species that is desperate for attention and acceptance.
To accept that everyone is flawed is the first step and you could easily criticise the person who has criticised you. But there’s no point in that childishness. To let others say what they want about you and not react or care is the mark of someone very comfortable with themselves. And most people simply aren’t there, I know I’m not. Through self accreditation, self love and self celebration of one’s own achievements we will slowly need less the approval of others. The less you need their approval the less you will value their criticism and that ultimately is a place of a far happier you.