When in a high-profile position, a person is sometimes a target for criticism.  Being criticized is hard enough when the criticism is clearly unfair, but it’s often even harder to hear when the criticism is on target.

Regardless of the accuracy of your critic’s comments, we either feel like counter-attacking or withdrawing non-assertively.  Here are some options that can help respond non-defensively to criticism.

Seek more information.  It is foolish to react to a critical attack until you understand what the other person has really said.  Be patient and you will learn that you can listen to hostile comments without necessarily accepting them.  Then again, you might just see that the criticism is valid.

You can ask for specifics.  Ask what, how, and when questions to get more specific information.

You can also respond by paraphrasing the critic’s comments.  By clarifying the complaints through paraphrasing, you will improve understanding and learn more about their objections.

You can ask about the consequences of your behavior.  Investigate through casual conversation and find out exactly what troublesome consequences your behavior has for them.

You can also agree with the facts, or agree in principle, or at least agree with the critic’s perception and accepting that’s the way they see it.

Some critics don’t seem to deserve the kinds of respectful responses discussed here.  Some people are more interested in attacking than explaining.  Before you counterattack hostile critics, ask yourself whether a defensive response will be worth the consequences.

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