There is criticism and then there is being critiqued. One is disparagement, the other appraisal. One is condemnation, one is assessment. Knowing these words definitions is one thing, knowing which it is when they are being given to us is another matter entirely.
If you take all criticism as critiquing, not only will you be pretty miserable but also on the road to failure. If you take all critiquing as criticism, you also will be a failure but even worse you won’t know why. When you don’t ever listen to those trying to help you improve, you will end up miserable because you can’t figure out why you are falling.
So how can we spot when someone is telling us something that might be hard to hear but helpful, rather than when someone is just being hurtful? How can we make sure we are in the right mindset to accept the advice and ignore the naysayer? Let consider some wisdom from the Bible.
1. If it is all or nothing
A wise son accepts his father's discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
If someone can’t say anything to you without you being defensive, chances are you not open to improvement. Even the absolute worst criticism will at least give you a smidgen of something you can improve on. Rather than immediately dismissing the negative comment, consider what you can learn from it.
2. Consider the source
It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man than for one to listen to the song of fools.
If your assumption is a person that agrees with me is wise, and one that disagrees with me is a fool, then you are not going to handle critiquing well. Consider the person before you consider the praise or censure. Wise people should be listened to even if they tell you something negative about yourself.
3. You knock it before you tried it
A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.
Consistency is only a virtue if you are doing right. A stubborn refusal to change when given a good reason to isn't a good thing. Take your medicine, and get better. It might be hard to swallow but it will make you better in the long run.