How to Deal with Criticism

Zilvold Coaching & Training Blog Criticism
7 min read

If you come up with new ideas or plans, there is a good chance that others will criticize you. You may find it unpleasant that others criticize you, but you also don’t want to do anything for fear of criticism. This article will help you recognize the value of criticism and how to deal with it.

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Still, I’m not too fond of criticism. It feels like a rejection to me, and I think my contribution is not appreciated. We all have this need to be recognized and appreciated. Criticism does not seem to contribute to this. Does it?

I experienced early on that there is more criticism when I am outgoing, show myself, and be present. Nowadays, this is based on my articles, presentations, or courses. Recently, I received positive feedback on the training I gave for a group of healthcare workers. However, one form was not that positive. The participant criticized my intervention during an exercise. Unfortunately, it lingers longer in my mind. Do you recognize this?

It’s easy to do nothing out of fear of criticism. How do you deal with criticism? In this article, I will briefly describe a model by Yvonne van Balkom that can help you, and I give you several tips on how to better deal with criticism.

Who are your critics?

People can criticize your actions, your choices, your statements, or even what you wear. If someone is criticizing you, then you can consider what type of critic that is. Yvonne van Balkom identifies four types of critics in a model. The horizontal axis is the degree of connection (little to strong). The vertical axis represents the level of expertise (from little to much).

The annoying child

This is the person you have little connection with and who has little expertise. These are the people who say something on the street about your behavior or what you are wearing. These people often lack context. When you know that you have little connection with these people and don’t know what they are talking about, it can be easier to distance yourself from their criticisms. It is also easier to be less affected by them.

The good salesperson

The good salesperson is someone with whom you have little connection but has a lot of expertise. Then it is important to listen to this person because you can learn from the criticism that she or he has. Often this person wants the best for you. Since you will not be meeting this person again soon, you will not be reminded of it quickly. The person who was the only one who handed in a feedback form with criticism after my training was the good salesperson.

The dear (girl)friend

Then there is the dear (girl)friend with whom you have a strong connection but has little expertise. Often, she/he does not dare to criticize you because she thinks you are too nice and wants to keep the harmony. When he/she does it, she/he does it very carefully.

In this part of the model, there may also be other friends and partners who dare express their criticism because there is a (strong) connection. Criticism from these people can hit you hard because you love each other dearly. Emotions can run high (just like with the annoying child). Then it can be useful to listen quietly, calmly clarify the context, and state the facts.

The esteemed colleague

The esteemed colleague is someone who has a lot of expertise and where the connection is strong. Receiving criticism from this person certainly does not have to be pleasant. Still, if you are aware that this person is well-intentioned, it is important to listen carefully. You can probably learn something from him or her. You both benefit from a lasting and stronger relationship because the connection is so strong.

How to respond to criticism

Being aware of these types of criticizers can help you respond differently to criticism. So, ask yourself whether the person who is criticizing you has a lot of expertise and what kind of connection/bond there is. Expertise can also be replaced with a degree of awareness and self-knowledge.

How to deal with criticism is similar to how to deal with conflicts. It’s about trying to understand the other. It may well be that the other is right with his or her criticism. The trick is to know how best to communicate with the person who is criticizing you. Criticism can contain a kernel of recognition and appreciation.

When you receive criticism, it is important to recognize its value and its lesson and then proceed with your plan. Chances are, you will be criticized for your actions again. Then listen again and observe the critic.

Recognize preferred communication styles

By listening carefully, you can find out what the preferred style is in the field of communication. We know four communication styles within the DISC communication profile: Dominant, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientious. This communication model can also help you deal with the various critics. They are combined with Yvonne van Balkom’s four critics model and shown in the figure below.

Steadiness critic

A dear friend is comparable to someone who has a Steadiness Communication profile. He/she is introverted and people-oriented.

Dominant critic

An annoying child is more likely to have a Dominant communication profile. This person is task-oriented and extrovert.

Influential critic

The good salesperson can be extrovert and people-oriented. This means that he/she has the Influence communication profile.

Conscientious critic

The esteemed colleague can be introverted and task-oriented. He/she has the communication profile Conscientious.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to put Yvonne van Balkom’s four critics model one on one on the DISC model. This is because the axes (expertise vs. connection) and (task / people-oriented vs. introvert/extravert) are not comparable.

communiceer beter (met Disc)!

A DISC assessment can help you find out your communication preferences and how you can best communicate with the other profiles, also in the area of criticism.
For more information about the DISC communication model, click here. You can also learn more about how DISC can help you with conflicts here.

I am a certified DISC trainer and can take assessments for you and your team. Interested? Contact me today!

How do you deal with criticism /What does criticism to you? Let me know in the comment field below. The other readers of this article and I are looking forward to reading from you!

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Have you seen an error in this article? Let me know! I am grateful!

(Dutch)Yvonne van Balkom, Beter omgaan met kritiek: identificeer de 4 typen kritiekgevers
Napoleon Hill, How to Think & Grow Rich

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