Criticism and praise : Are they really different?
If we succeed in something, people start attacking us. Self-motivation comes with the ability to developing a thick skin against all the criticism. But what is equally important, is the ability to not let praise consume us. Why? Because praise and criticism are actually two aspects of the same coin.
If you want to efficiently handle criticism, you should know how to handle praise effectively. If someone excessively praises you for a small victory, you should take it the same way you would take a hurtful insult. A person who is easily flattered is the person who is easily criticised also.
Steer your life, your own way. Don’t let distractions like flattery or criticism steer you away from your goals.
- The problem with praise
If someone congratulates you, thank them whole-heartedly. Be cautious and don’t open yourself to over-confidence. Since praise and criticism are similar to each other, when we accept praise, we open ourselves to accepting criticism also.
A friend of mine scored exceptionally well in two of the mock tests meant for CAT. He scored a 100 percentile. Everyone around him went on praising him and his intellect. He fully absorbed the praise and became extremely confident by his performance.
However, at the main exam, he did not perform well, he was crushed. I feel his unguarded acceptance of all praise in the earlier victories led to this unwanted disaster. Internalizing praise can lower your motivation to work hard just as much as criticism. While some minor critiques encourage improvement, excessive flattery promotes laziness.
- Stop caring what other people think of you
The solution, both to prevent the excesses of praise and the humiliation of criticism, is to stop caring what other people think of you. Take what is workable from their feedbacks and work on them. Neither the praises, nor the criticisms should steer the ship of your life.
If you get a criticism, don’t get disheartened. It is very humanly to get upset with criticisms but don’t let criticisms take a toll on you. Figure out what can be improved to nullify that criticism. This would help you otherwise also, in ruling out fake criticism or the criticisms which are only meant to mellow you down.
Similarly, work with praises. Figure out what good from the current victory can be used in your future works to ensure success. Don’t lament over criticisms or step on cloud nine over praises. The key is to not get distracted.
- Start caring what you think of yourself
What is more important than praise or criticism is what you think of yourself. Start caring what you think of yourself, because you are the one that has to look in the mirror each day and face yourself. You are the only person that intimately understands your goals and values. You are the one who sets the goals in the first place. So, how can you expect other people, with different motives, to give you the ideal feedback to move forward?
Other people can offer great advice. But the emotional impact of praise and criticism should come from yourself. Other people can offer actionable suggestions, but they can’t be the judge of your self-worth.
- Humble confidence in self
The ideal state of mind is humble confidence. You are humble, because you accept all feedback, searching for actionable suggestions, open to any opportunity. You are confident because you won’t allow emotional praise or criticism to distract you from your goals. If people praise you, thank them and focus on your goal. If people criticize you, thank them and focus on your goal. Because, in the end, you’re the one who has to judge yourself and live with it.
So, take criticism and praise in the right spirit and your life is all sorted! 😉