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How to Overcome Criticism and Conflict

Dealing with criticism and conflict is far from easy. It can be disheartening, to say the least. There's a host of negative emotions brewing inside us when we face criticism. It can be shock, embarrassment, hurt, fear, and others. All too quickly, we tend to jump onto the defensive mode. Sustained and unresolved conflicts create tension at home, at work, or in any environment. Later on, these might lead our mental and physical health down to erosion.

Constructive and Destructive Criticisms

Criticism is an expression of judgment from a person's positive or negative perception. Most of the time, it is an expression of disapproval. That is why most of us dread getting one. There are two major types of criticisms. Try to recall criticisms you received in the past and identify which type they fall in. Being aware of this can aid us in handling future disparagements more appropriately.

Constructive Criticisms

Constructive criticism is given with a compassionate and helpful attitude. People offer this type of criticism because they want to help the person improve their work. It is focused on the work, topic, or situation rather than on the person who did it. If you listen closely, the words used are specific, clear, and detailed. In addition, they propose suggestions on how to make them work better. Often, constructive critics are experts in the field.

Destructive Criticisms

The main intention of this type of criticism is to hurt or embarrass the person. It then focuses on the person rather than their work. These are given with the deliberate intention to insult or harm someone. These are provided without offering suggestions or tips to improve the quality of work. But did you know that critics of this type are often ignorant about what they are talking about? It's no wonder they focus on the person rather than their work.

It is essential to know the difference between the two types. Then, you can appreciate the constructive criticisms you get. Thank your critic, and work on getting better. Use it as a push or drive to improve your work. On the other hand, keep in mind that destructive criticisms have no bearing. Try your best to ignore them and don't let them get into your heart.

Why do we get (or give) criticisms?

In some cases, a person may not know if they are overly critical. It starts with the purest intentions. Like many of us, they want to be the best version of themselves. In doing so, they tend to develop self-criticism. Their self-confidence takes a blow. They pay attention to their negative thoughts and create a negative inner voice. They become cynical, which later spills over to others.

Many people who are prone to give destructive criticisms are those who tend to be easily insulted. When they feel devalued or cast in an inferior state, they criticise others as a way to defend their hurt ego. Throwing criticisms is the coping mechanism used by these people who usually feel unworthy.

Critics and hurtful people are the way they are because someone has put them down in the past. So when a critic gets intimidated, they shift the spotlight off from themselves and onto others. This way, they feel safer. Remember, people who hurt others react that way because of their unconscious inner wounds.

How do you deal with criticisms and conflicts?

Conflict is inevitable. Not everybody will agree with you, much less like you and all the things you do. If you are doing great, you will surely attract admiration. The sad reality is that you will also get a handful of criticisms. Remember that disapprovals will always be part of your growth.

Don't avoid it. Face it head-on.

The great philosopher, Aristotle, said: "There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing." I couldn't agree more! Even if you want to, an avoidance strategy is not the way to go if you're working to achieve your dreams. Avoiding criticism is a weak path to take. So, stand up and be bold. Don't let your fear of being judged outweigh your desire to succeed!

Stay calm and manage your emotions.

Getting criticized can be debilitating. Your emotions will spill and boil as you go through the rollercoaster of conflict and criticism. An old adage says, "The tongue has no bones but is strong enough to break a heart..." So, find the facts but don't feed your feelings. Let words be just words. Take them with a grain of salt. Remember that whatever others say about you, it's more about them than you.

The old adage ends by saying, "…so be careful with your words." Don't get back at your critics by doing the same thing they did to you. If you let your emotions take over you, you will likely regret it later. So walk away from the situation and give yourself some space until your emotions subside.

Understand the different perceptions and accept them.

Sometimes, it can just be how we can differ in our interpretations. A person may have seen a scenario in a way that is very much different from how you perceived it. Taking time to understand the situation lets you see it differently. You do not have to align your view with theirs or theirs with yours. But learning to accept how others see it versus how you did brings your understanding to a whole new level.

Empower yourself

Always take credit for yourself and for your work. You deserve it. If you hear people talking, let them. Remember that criticism is a sign of success. Getting criticized indicates that you are commanding their attention and dominating their thoughts. It is improbable that you are getting belittled by someone more significant than yourself.

Deepen your inner resources from your past experiences

Learn from experience. I am confident you've come a long way. This is your race. Keep your eyes on the road and never on the spectators. Use the noise as a drive to do better. Not directly paying attention to it leads you to where you want to go. Whenever you find yourself in conflict situations, take the opportunity to practice controlling your emotions, improve your communication skills, widen your ability to understand, and spark creativity to solve problems.

Effects of Criticisms and Conflicts

Differences in opinion, experience, taste, personality, and beliefs are some of the things that can lead to conflict. Sometimes, even if you try your best to care and understand, disagreements still arise. This is because conflicts, first and foremost, disrupt communication. As a result, loud arguments and debates ensue. Over time, miscommunication can take a toll on your relationships.

Criticism and conflict often lead to tension and stress. Everybody involved becomes frustrated. You will feel like your efforts are undervalued, your beliefs attacked, and your opinions go unnoticed. These may lead to lack of sleep, loss of appetite or binging, headaches, and irritability. Your mental health may get affected.
Conflict is divisive. It sets people against one another. When you don't communicate well and are under stress, you become less productive. This is an instance where how a short but harsh remark gets blown out of proportion and becomes very costly.

When conflicts escalate without resolution, intense situations, such as violence and legal problems, may result. Anyone willing to do so can simply overcome conflict and criticism when done right. You'll need the will to fix it and some basic conflict resolution skills.

What is Conflict Resolution?

Conflicts are a part of life. By understanding how they work and where they come from, you get an idea of how to find solutions to deal with them.

Conflict resolution is a set of skills designed not to avoid conflicts but resolve them. It is the process of ending a disagreement and reaching an arrangement that satisfies all parties involved. It facilitates discussions, improves understanding, and regulates emotional responses. Equip yourself with the techniques and steps before you try resolving an ongoing conflict in your life right now.

Techniques to Use in Conflict Resolution

Active Listening

When you listen actively, you focus on what the other person is saying when they are speaking. You also include what they said when you responded to them. Doing this will make them feel that they are heard and valued.


Be assertive but calm. Take precautions not to push others too hard, resulting in worse conflicts. Encouraged people to voice their concerns and share their feelings.

"I" Statements

Speak from your own experiences. Never assume you know how others feel or why they did things. Doing this prevents blaming and unproven accusations. When you speak sharing your own thoughts, you promote the other party's understanding of your side.


Effective communication is the key to conflict resolution. When you communicate clearly and appropriately, problems are solved on point. Because of clarity, you also prevent the problem from happening again.

Emotional Regulation

Put emotional intelligence and anger management in place. No volatile emotions, insults, and other unnecessary expressions will surface if emotions are kept in check. Parties will reach an agreement quickly.


Knowing when and how to apologize is the final step in conflict resolution. Everyone will get a sense of the wrong they might have done. They will understand why they have to say sorry instead of being forced to do it at the start.

Five Steps to Resolve Criticisms and Conflicts

Step 1 – State your intention.

Prepare in your mind what you want the outcome to be. Gather everyone involved. When everyone is ready to listen, calmly state your intention. Ensure that it is a win-win situation for all concerned in a positive tone.

Step 2 – Lift the energy into the positive.

Think about one thing you admire or truly respect about the other person/s. Doing this turns the energy into positive. Let them know what it is by directly stating it: "What I really admire or respect about you is..." This allows them to be in a more open, calm, and receptive state instead of being angry and defensive.

Step 3 – Empathize with them.

Step into their shoes to understand them better. Where are they coming from? What must they be feeling? What do they want but can't communicate effectively? What would be their biggest fear that they can't manage or control? Do they feel threatened, ashamed, disempowered, stupid, not capable, guilty, overwhelmed, or unable to cope? Take all this into consideration.

Step 4 – Let them empathize with you.

This time, take them and put them into your shoes. Open yourself up to them so they understand you better. "This is how I feel when you... When you say, ... it makes me feel... I can only respond with clear and respectful communication. I react really well to clear direction delivered calmly. I am here to help. We both have a common goal. We want the same thing - a successful resolution."

Step 5 – Get their buy-in and reach your common goal.

Get their buy-in. "What do you think WE can do to solve this? What can we do that works for both of us?" By seeking to genuinely care about the outcome they want, you calm them down. This leads them to walk with you as you move forward away from the conflict and towards the resolution.

Albeit they abound in life in general, criticism and conflict are rarely ever personal. It is often a reflection or a projection of your critic's past experiences and excess baggage. Bear in mind that the harshest critic you will meet in your life will be yourself. Try looking at every difficult situation through your lens of love, confidence, and empowerment.


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