How to avoid criticism? (Quote of the Month, July 2010)
Posted by TCW
To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
– Elbert Hubbard
I used to care way too much about what people think or say about me. Which didn’t help me in social situations at all – to the point that could be described as having a social phobia. I was afraid of talking with people I didn’t know (or didn’t know well), I was nervous calling someone on the phone, I was anxious expressing my opinions. My strategy was to say as little as possible, only give some general answer if I was asked something, and hide in the corner of the room. It is not even that this was my conscious strategy: I didn’t think about it, I was doing it automatically. The logic is simple: if you don’t do or say anything then nobody will criticize you and you will be fine.
Except that you won’t be. This strategy will limit your life very, very much. You may not get criticized, however it is a terrible way of living. I realized this when I was in my late teens and thereafter I have done some deliberate things to go outside my comfort zone and get past my social anxiety. (One thing that comes to my mind right now is dying my hair blond when I was 18). I am still not relaxed in social situations as much as I would like, however now I can at least have a normal conversation.
The thing to remember here is that no matter what you are, what you say or do, you will never, ever please all people. People have different tastes, opinions, world views, life histories, temperaments and goals. There will always be some people who will not like you for whatever reason and they may criticize you or oppose you in some way. They may even do it solely because it serves their interests, for example if they view you as their business competitor.
Nobody likes criticism. However, you should be able to endure it (because it is inevitable) and therefore you should not care too much about what people think or say about you. The only other option is described by this month’s quote.
To clarify it further: it is totally fine to have a consideration for other people and to listen to their opinions. However, it is your life and you should be the final judge of what you will accept and what you will not accept with regards to how you live your life. And face the consequences of course, good or bad.