How do you respond to harsh criticism?

The cabinet is being pummeled. What to do when faced with big opposition? Remain silent? 5 ways not to dive. Stay out of the defensive and let the criticism come! Both home and at work.

1. Irritation vs interest

The biggest mistake with harsh criticism is immediately counter attacking (‘Who’s saying that!’) or playing down (‘Calm down please’). Don’t show irritation. Show sincere interest: ‘Mmmm, interesting.’

2. Erase ‘no’ from your dictionary

Respond to criticism with ‘No, we’re not duping anyone’ is asking for a yes-no. With a diplomatic ‘I understand what’s bothering you’ you will disarm nearly every critic. This prevents a lot of squabble.

3. Stand a step higher or lower

Replying to criticism directly rarely works. It takes a lot of time and never satisfies. Also don’t respond to adjectives (health premiums too high, what do you mean too high?)’. Rather explain what you want and why you want it.

4. Reframe

Criticism is driven by desire. People don’t quickly know what they want, but what they do want requires some thinking. What starts negatively may end positively if you ask ‘What do you want yourself?’

5. Criticism rather beforehand than afterwards

Dealing with criticism after the decision has been made is like torturing yourself. Ask for criticism before you decide. Clear resistance beforehand works better than forcing conclusions. You will also save face and mea culpa!

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