How To Receive Criticism Like A Champ (Part 2)

If you read last week’s post on receiving criticism, I’m sure it changed your life and you are now the most humble person you know, desirous of the correction and input of others.

You freely admit, “I’m not smarter than a fifth-grader and I’m a worse sinner.”  You now view everyone who critiques you as a valuable friend.  “Thank you for smiting me in love,” you gush when corrected.

Right.

Well, we’ll keep trying.  Like I said last week, I don’t love being corrected.  But Jesus can help us grow.  Here are a few more suggestions.

- Don’t be quick to defend yourself. “Hey I thwacked Junior on the head with my iPad because he had a bad attitude!”  Don’t make excuses: “Well, I didn’t actually lie.  It was theater.  You know, drama.  I just exaggerated a little bit for effect.”  Sometimes it’s fine to offer reasons for our actions, but defensiveness usually comes from pride.

- Don’t write someone off because they fail to deliver criticism perfectly. “Hey!  You corrected me harshly!  Your stinking attitude invalidates all you said.”  Even if they sin, make your primary focus your failure, not theirs.  You can talk about their sin some other time.

- Ask clarifying questions. Don’t require them to produce video footage, finger prints, and DNA evidence before you accept what they say, but if they have some examples that could help you see more clearly, welcome them.

- Watch your facial expression and body language. I know, your face feels like it’s going to crack into a thousand pieces.  Don’t sit there with your arms crossed and an “I dare you to say something negative” scowl on your face.  Try not to start breathing heavily when someone is correcting you, like a snorting bull.  Remember, you’re trying to make it easy for them.

- If you see what they’re saying, acknowledge it. James says, “Confess your sins to one another.”  Say, “You’re right, honey.  I should not have thwacked Junior on the head with my iPad.  I was angry and that was sin.  Junior, would you please forgive Daddy for his anger and for thwacking you on the head?  I won’t thwack you any more.  And anyway, my iPad’s broken now.”

- If you can’t see what someone is saying, don’t immediately write it off. You could say, “I’m having a hard time seeing what you’re saying right now, but I certainly could be wrong.  I know I have blind spots.”  Another thing you can do is ask others if they have observed the same thing.  Good chance if one person has seen a weakness or fault of yours, others have too (thanks Julian Freeman for this addition!).

- Ask them to please point it out again if you do it again. Because most likely you will.

Bottom line – we all need correction, input, reproof, adjustment, suggestions and help.  A wise man or woman grows wiser by receiving these from others.  OK, now go out there and get criticized!

  • Julian

    Mark, this is (like the last one) is fantastic. Thank you.

    One thing that may be worth adding is an addition to the second last one ('don't write it off'). If there are other people you trust, who have observed you in the same contexts as this person, it's sometimes helpful to ask around.

    Typically companies figure that for every one letter of complaint they get, there are about 10 people who thought the same thing but didn't write. Oftentimes I think it's the same for me on a personal level. For every person that addresses sin they see in me, there are probably 10 others who have seen it and not said anything. It's worth asking around to see if that's true, I think. That way the 'I know I have blind spots' thing becomes more than just words — it takes form in action.

    Thanks again, brother. This just flat-out convicts me.

    • Mark Altrogge

      Excellent Julian! I think I'll add it in.

  • joel dan kuyambana

    wow! that's a good piece for us to all ponder on. keep up the good work Mark.

    • Mark Altrogge

      Thanks so much Dan!

  • C.J. McMurry

    Ouch! That hurt worse than last week, but just as needed.

    • MarkAltrogge

      Sorry, CJ! But thanks!

  • Tim

    This is a hard, but needed reminder. Thanks for bein' honest, and allowing the Word to do what it's supposed to – cut the fat off!

    • Mark Altrogge

      Thanks Tim!

  • Raul Pons

    Very helpful advice Mark- both for receiving and giving criticism – thanks for the practical ways to apply this truth – specially the example of your wife addressing you as I saw me responding that way to my wife.

    • Mark Altrogge

      Sure Raul! I’m preaching to myself.

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