Dealing With Negative Criticism

No one likes to be criticized, and more so negatively. Negative criticism from members of your family, coaches, media or fans hurts and may discourage creativity and channel one's efforts in the wrong direction. Negative criticism can destroy your potential if you let yourself to dwell on what your critics say instead of focusing on your future.

InMulticultural Folktales For All Ages: Traditional and Modern Folktales from the Kamba (Kenya) and Tagalog (Philippines) Communities with Felisa Tyler I wrote a story that vividly presents the dangers following our critics' advise. The title of the story is, "ON THE WAY TO SELL THE FAMILY DONKEY"

In the land called Kyangwasi (Land of Sweet Potatoes), there lived a man called Kausini, whose family had a donkey called Kilevu. One day, the family decided to sell their donkey because there was a drought. Kausini called Masemba, his son, and told him that they would go and sell their donkey the following day.

On their way to the marketplace, they met with a neighbor who advised them that the donkey should carry Masemba because he was young, and the journey to the marketplace was about a six-hour walk.

Masemba rode the donkey for about one hour, and then they met with some distant cousins. These relatives immediately told Kausini that he was spoiling his son. The boy was young and had strength to walk compared to him. They cautioned Masemba and told him to respect his aging father. Therefore, Kausini rode on the donkey while Masemba walked.

A few minutes later, they met with Kausini's in-laws. The in-laws saw Masemba walking and wondered why both of them were not riding the donkey. They told Kausini and Masemba that their donkey was in good health, and they could both ride on it because they were going to sell it anyway. So, they both got on the donkey.

Just a few miles from the marketplace, they met with strangers who were bewildered by Kausini and his son. The strangers told them that they were being mean to the donkey and that the donkey was young and tired. Therefore, they should get off and carry the donkey.

Kausini and his son got off and tried to carry the donkey. The donkey kicked them hard and ran away.

You can't always please everybody. If we follow destructive opinions from others, then we are carrying somebody's donkey. Someone may load you with a donkey he or she has been carrying. What other people may think of you negatively must never be your problem. Just prove them wrong by not letting their opinion be your reality. "The best revenge is to do what your critics said you couldn't"

A story is told of a woman who wanted to do something special for her hard to please husband. She woke up when he was still lying in bed and said to him, "Honey, I would to make you breakfast. What would you like?" He said, "Two eggs, one scrambled and the other one sunny side-up."

She cooked the two eggs as he wanted them and went an extra mile; she prepared for him a cup of his favorite brand of coffee. Then, with all tender sweetness she took them to her husband and said, "Sweetheart, here is your breakfast." He looked at the eggs and said, "You scrambled the wrong egg."

No matter how well you do, there are some people who will not pat your back. Learn who they are, what they say and again, let them carry their "donkey" while you concentrate on your goals until you achieve tangible and/or intangible results.

To move forward after a critic's attack, you must learn to leave the past behind no matter how immediate the attack is. You can't be successful by focusing on the past. Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th U.S President said, "It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat."


Dr. Vincent Muli Wa Kituku, a native of Kenya and resident of Idaho established Kituku & Associates in 1995 to provide new approaches for dealing with workplace challenges. He likens the unpredictability of change/challenges to life with water buffaloes that invaded African villages without warning, devastating social structures, uprooting the harmonious livelihood of villagers and leave them feeling insecure and stressed out. During chaotic times, people think that there is no solution for t...

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