Monday, August 31, 2015

How to Stop Taking Criticism So Personally

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." - Plato

How do you feel when someone criticizes you? If you’re like many people then your reaction and response depend on a number of factors. It may depend on who is criticizing you. Your mood that day and disposition can also play an important role. Of course it can also depend on how they criticize you and what they’re commenting on.

Regardless of the situation, you can change your reaction to the criticism. You can learn to control your emotional reaction to criticism and not let it impact your self-esteem.

Evaluate the Source

When you’re receiving criticism it’s important to evaluate the source. A perfect stranger posting a comment online is much different than hearing something negative from your significant other. The deliverer of the criticism is important. What’s equally as important is the motivation for their criticism. Are they trying to help or hurt? Understanding the source of the criticism can help you frame it better.

Look for the Benefit

Assuming that the feedback is coming from someone who is trying to help, then focus on what you have to gain from the criticism. For example, a writer who hears from their editor that the dialogue feels forced can take that information and improve their dialogue. They can become a better writer. There is power in listening to criticism.

Detach from the Feedback

What other people think about your skills, characteristics, knowledge and so on actually has no impact on who you are as a person. Their opinion isn’t your reality – it’s theirs. And vice versa - just because you think someone is cruel doesn’t make them cruel. Detach from the feedback and remember that it doesn’t define you. You define you.

Feedback and criticism can be difficult to take under any circumstances. Remember who you are. Learn from the feedback and remember to pay attention to the person delivering the criticism. How much does their opinion really matter to you?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Help Someone with Low Self-Esteem

“Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.” 
― Shannon L. Alder

Do you know someone that has low self-esteem? They may put themselves down often or seem frequently depressed or sad. They may also martyr themselves and put everyone else first. The signs of low self-esteem aren’t always easy to see, but if you pay attention there are usually clues. So what do you do if you know or love someone who has low self-esteem? How can you help them?

Get Them Involved

People with low self-esteem often get there because they have had a few negative experiences and they’ve withdrawn. Involve them in a group or activity that you think they might enjoy. At first it will probably take some arm twisting. They may be hesitant to join. You may have to get creative. One approach is to tell them they’ll help you by going along. For example, if you’re trying to get them to join a group, you might let them know that you’d like to try the group but want them there for assurance.

Give Them Positive Feedback

Negative feedback is common and it can have a significant impact on someone with low self-esteem. You can help balance that negative feedback with positive. However, when you do give positive feedback it’s important to make sure that it’s genuine and specific. For example, “You did a good job” isn’t specific. However, “You’re very skilled at expressing your ideas,” is specific. It tells the person that you are paying attention and that your feedback is genuine.

Express Your Care for Them

There are many ways to show someone that you care about them. Small things like remembering past conversations and asking how things are going shows that you care. Listening to them when they talk and asking questions is another way to demonstrate care. Do nice things for people that you care about to help boost their self-esteem.

Encourage Them

What goals and dreams do they have? Ask about their personal and professional pursuits and offer encouragement. If they ask, try to provide assistance in the form of support and even planning. You may be able to show them how their strengths will help them achieve their goals and dreams.

Strive to be positive when you talk to them. If they express a negative thought or mindset, try to balance it with something that is true and positive. For example, if they say they’re not very smart, you might remind them that they are a math whiz and really great at solving complicated problems.

It can be difficult to support someone who has low self-esteem. You want any encouragement and support to be genuine. If they sense that you’re giving them false encouragement and saying things that you don’t mean, it can hurt their self-esteem even more. However, by staying positive, focusing on strengths and getting them involved, they can learn to build a solid concept of self-worth and healthy self-esteem.