When you are misunderstood or unjustly criticized

In our professional interactions with others, there are bound to be times when someone’s comments make us feel that we have been unjustly treated.

We can get so upset that we go on the defensive, and rant or respond inappropriately, thus missing the lesson and the learning.

To help us spend less time in this negative emotional state, here are a few tips:

  1. Draw an emotional line between you and the incident.

    You are so much more than what a random individual thinks of you.

    You are a living, growing, work-in-progress.
  2. Don’t respond when upset.

    Give yourself time to simmer down.

    Things will look different (and feel less intense) a few hours later, and you will avert the disaster of an ill-timed comment or online rant.

    Use this waiting time to reflect on what has happened.

    What might have triggered the other person to lash out?

    Have you contributed to the criticism by doing something you shouldn’t, or not doing something you should, whether consciously or unconsciously?

    If so, how can you make things right?

    Is there a possibility that the other person might be projecting their problems, attitudes, and assumptions about life on you?

    If so, this might explain why they are feeling unfulfilled or dissatisfied in some area of their life.

    Answering these questions takes honesty, humility, discernment, and self-awareness.
  3. Put on your armour.

    I call this going into Warrior mode.

    This is not about getting defensive and attacking the other person in retaliation for the hurt and criticism they have inflicted.

    Rather, it is about taking the higher path: maintaining your integrity, being courageous, and protecting your boundaries as one who loves and esteems self and others.

    You can do this by responding courteously and professionally, by consciously letting go of any resentment and ego, by focussing on the positive intentions of the other (whether or not they meant well), and by seeking a way forward that lets you stay calm and at peace inside.

Have a go with these tips and let me know if you find them helpful.

Serena Low