First Response to Criticism…Listen

What is your first response to criticism?

My aim is to listen to criticism and not respond immediately. If I decide not to reply, then I can listen. If I’m thinking about my reply, I don’t have time or energy to hear what the criticizer is saying.

Often they have something helpful to say. Sometimes it’s not helpful. Occasionally, some of what they say is helpful. At other times, what they say isn’t helpful but it prompts me to think of something profitable they’ve not said but I’d never thought of before.

When I decide not to reply immediately, which I try to make standard policy, I reply with, “That’s interesting; let me think about it. I’ll consider what you said and get back to you by . . . (date and time).”

Sometimes I find it helpful to write my response, reread it, call a friend to evaluate it, and either read it or say it after I’ve given thought to it.

Another trade secret: I’ve found since I’ve been inviting criticism, the more I ask for it, the less I get, and what I get doesn’t hurt as much.

When I ask for criticism and people give it, I feel I’ve been heard and believed. I like to be heard and affirmed to be telling the truth.

A freeing idea for me: when I receive criticism, I have choices:

  1. Do what the critic suggested.
  2. Not do what the critic suggested.
  3. Do the opposite of what the critic suggested.
  4. Do some of what the critic suggested.

I need to thank my critics for prompting good thinking.


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Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

9 Responses to “First Response to Criticism…Listen

    5 years ago

    To me it is impossible to be trying to build a response/defense when listening to comments or criticism.
    Having an agreement to not take notes, but focus on the person speaking to observe their body language and facial expressions is an important part of listening.I have learned much from your approach and it does take patience to be a good listener.

    • Ron,

      Thank you for adding the emphasis on focus and intensity.

      I appreciate your comments and example of being a good lsitener.

    5 years ago

    Many want to offer criticism at the back door as they exit, but I ask them to step aside from the stampede so I can listen without distraction. Sometimes they are unwilling to do this, which could reflect on the motivation for their criticism if they feel it must be given in view of others, but others appreciate the personal attention I am willing to offer to their complaint. To listen without interrupting or getting distracted is then, for me, easier in a private or semi-private setting.

  • Dr. Phil Nunnally
    5 years ago

    Criticism is never good. Truth is good. Scriptural truth to abide by is good. Adding to or taking away is not good. For when one adds to the truth or takes away from from the truth, their name is removed from the Book of Life. Do as God States not man nor oneself. Obedience and faithfulness is Godly, opinion is not. Opinion is never forthright nor right. Not my thoughts, God’s truthfulness as the Word of God teaches.♥️

    • Phil,

      Criticism has helped me tremendously.

      Often it’s not what is said but the way I said it that needs improving.

      Sometimes it’s not something I did wrong, but something I didn’t do.

      When someone points that out to me, they’ve done me a favor.

  • John Pigg
    5 years ago

    Jerry, please enroll me in your blog— tks

    • John,

      I added your name to the notification list.

      You will need to confirm by replying to an email that you want to receive messages from me.

      Thank you for your interest.

  • Titus 3:10-11 tells us that there are some people who have lost the right to be heard. What you have said is certainly correct for the majority. But if applied to those who have repeatedly shown themselves to be trying to stir up division, it is a mistake. In that case we end up playing right into Satan’s hands.