No matter where you go, or how careful you try to be with your words and actions, there will always be someone who will judge you and what you do.
How can you tell the difference between a hater and someone who has genuine constructive criticism for you?
Remember, not everyone will agree with us. We’re all entitled to our own opinions. But some of us are just worse at expressing ourselves than others.
“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” – Norman Vincent Peale
We need constructive criticism to get out of our comfort zones. However, it’s not the easiest to handle. It’s going to help us toughen up and move on from situations we never thought we’d get through. Some critiques are meant to be ignored, while others need to be put into action.
Now, imagine how soft, helpless, and vulnerable we’d be if we just kept settling for sugar-coated advice and half-hearted criticism.
Constructive Criticism vs. Hater
Defined as “the act of expressing disapproval and of noting the problems or faults of a person or thing”, (constructive) criticism is often confused with hateful talk. While both may present negative aspects, constructive feedback is less harsh than the other.
• Attacks/points out the action or what was said, not the person
• Heavily supported by facts
• Has logic and structure
• Gives a person a chance to correct mistakes and gives room for improvement.
• “I believe … and this is why…so I think you should….”
• Builds someone up, even if it may sound a little cruel.
• Requires observation before criticism is given.
• Helps build an idea
• Tries to educate
Haters, on the other hand, will:
• Attack the person, not the argument.
• Be biased and strongly opinionated
• Talk impulsively
• Point out negatives, and completely disregard the positives
• Result in unfiltered and insensitive opinions.
• Tear down opinions, suggestions, and ideas
• Cause embarrassment
In short, haters are people who use their freedom of speech and privilege for the wrong reasons.
Sticky Situations: Haters and constructive criticism at the same time
Circumstances when both constructive criticism and being a hater take place include instances wherein someone comments on somebody else’s body shape or weight, or at someone’s hard-earned output.
“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
For example, the golden rule about mentioning someone’s weight gain is not to point it out it in the first place. Some people go as far as saying “oh my how you’ve grown/gotten bigger!” This is an absolute no-no.
Often, comments like these will encourage you to start working out, eat healthier, or invest in exercise equipment. Nothing bad about that, they were just telling the truth, right? Compared to people saying “you’re getting fat, you need to lose weight,” which one would you rather hear?
Other issues that convey negativity rather than constructive criticism revolve around clashes of beliefs or values. Sometimes, parents also tend to overstep the boundary between disciplining their children and belittling them for their mistakes.
For instance, take this situation where your child comes home with a “low” grade:
Criticism: Darling, why such a low grade? What happened? Was there something you didn’t understand about your lessons? I know you can do better. Come to me if you need any help next time, okay?
Hate: You failed your exam. This is so disappointing. I didn’t raise you to fall short. There better not be a next time.
How to Overcome and Deal with Constructive Criticism
It doesn’t matter how good a day you’re having, one negative comment – constructive criticism or hate – from someone has the power to turn it all around. Unsurprisingly, receiving constructive criticism can be difficult to handle.
“I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man’s self-respect is a sin.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
However, when someone bashes you, use it as motivation to improve yourself. So, go out there and prove them wrong.
Next, don’t take it personally. Remember that the things people say about others are often a reflection of their insecurities. Therefore, they take pleasure in discouraging others so they can feel better about themselves.
Sometimes, there are also cases where people’s voices and intonation make something sound worse than they actually are. They were just born with that characteristic, deal with it. Take this into consideration and focus on what they said instead of how it was uttered. Instead, choose to find the positive, even in a negative message, no matter how minute.
Lastly, don’t be a harsh critic yourself. Karma advocate or not, it always goes back to the concept of pointing fingers.
A popular Buddha story with various versions serves as a perfect example of a verbally abusive person’s slurs having a boomerang effect.
“After continuously receiving insults, Buddha asked the offender: “if someone offers you a gift, and you decline to accept it, to whom does the gift belong?” The man replied, “to the one who offered it.”
“That is correct. So if I decline to accept your abuse, does it not belong to you?”
Therefore, the more negatively you react to hate and (constructive) criticism, the truer those statements will be to you. If the shoe doesn’t fit, move on. Remember, no one asked you to squeeze your feet in them.
So, hold your head up high. Live life on your terms. Let constructive criticism help you grow. More importantly, let the hate roll off your shoulders and just keep going!