How to Respond to “Unjustified” Criticism


I imagine you are a lot like me, and you really don’t enjoy someone criticising you and telling you that you’re wrong. Nobody enojys criticism, I suppose.

One thing that has added an extra degree of frustration to that experience for me, though, is when someone criticizes what I am saying or doing, but then doesn’t seem to have a reasonable explanation for why they feel as they do. In fact, maybe they don’t even try to give a reason at all!

My response to that in the past was basically just to dismiss it. If they can’t even give me an explanation for why they think I am wrong here, then why even bother listening to them? This is how I figured it, at least.

I no longer feel that this is the right approach, however. Many people struggle to present a reasoned outline of an explanation for why they feel a certain way, but that does not mean that their opinions or conclusions are irrelevant. Rather, I have many times found that those feelings and criticisms can provide some very useful insight into who I am, my weaknesses and my personality, despite the fact that they cannot explain why they feel that way. If I simply write those feelings off, I lose a real opportunity to learn and grow.

It just occured to me that nobody tends to do this when they receive positive compliments from others. Suppose someone speaks a kind word to you and says that you are one of the most thoughtful people they know. Can you imagine asking that person to defend their assertion? Would you quickly dismiss their compliment if they didn’t have a coherent and reasoned basis for their opinion? Probably not, and yet we are ready to do so quickly if a critical word is spoken to us.

It matters what people think and feel about what you say and do, who you are as a person. Next time someone shares those feelings with you and they are less than perfectly positive, give the benefit of the doubt that it is worth considering what they are saying, even if they can’t explain why. You might find that you yourself can find the explanation for them and know exactly why they feel as they do.

About amspencer1984

I am a Christian who desires to serve in God's kingdom in the best way possible. I have served as a foreign missionary in southern Mexico. I have worked as a youth minister at my local church of Grace Baptist in Dickson, TN. I have also recently begun to write books with a desire to help others grow in life. I hope that they are helpful and effective in doing that. I have been married to Alicia Spencer since 2003. We have six children and give thanks to God for all of them.
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