Stop People Pleasing & Handle Criticism with Grace


Anytime we enter the public lime-light, we are likely to encounter both criticism & praise 

Learning to unhook from the need for approval and not be moved by criticism or praise is a pivotal key to success.

I don’t know anyone who enjoys criticism.  It can feel painful.  In fact, just a couple well-slung criticisms can paralyze and bring hopes and dreams to a complete standstill!  

5 Strategies to Handle Criticism with Grace 

Having been a public personality for three decades I have faced my share of criticism.I remember the first time I entered business my entire family mocked me and told me I was chasing pipe dreams. When it comes to criticism the first thing I have taught myself to remember is that it happens to even the best of us.

People by nature can tend to be fickle. The same crowds that waved palm branches and shouted, “Hosanna” to Jesus screamed, “Crucify Him” only a few days later.

Here are some strategies you can use the next time criticism comes your way.

  1. Don’t take it personally

When I first read Don Miguel Ruiz’s best-selling book, The Four Agreements”  I was moved by it’s wisdom. In the second agreement Don’t take anything personally the author reminds us that nothing others do is about us.  It is about them.  The truth is each person has their own movie playing in their mind. They are dealing with their own struggles, fears, and issues. Rarely is the “issue” the real “issue”. Understanding this will help put some margin around the situation and keep us from internalizing hurts and emotions that have little or nothing to do with us. (Note:  I was so moved by this book I did a 13 part study from a biblical perspective. Get the audios for this study here now)

2.  Don’t respond in kind

Rarely is it helpful to respond back to criticism with the same spirit we receive it.  The book of Proverbs says,  “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.”  On the contrary, in the sermon on the Mount Jesus teaches us to respond in opposite fashion.  If cursed, bless.  If persecuted, Pray. Love your enemies. We are told that a hallmark of being a believer is to love the unlovable. A disciple can be identified by their love.  “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35.  When tempted to lash back whisper a silent prayer first. In most cases the need to respond will disappear. Often the words are coming from a place of pain.   A dear friend of mine has often reminded me that,

“Hurting people hurt people”

Remembering this will help us to respond with mercy. 

3.  Discern the difference between wise counsel and criticism

Getting wise counsel is crucial.  Finding mentors and coaches who have done what you desire to do can save you years of struggle and thousands of dollars. Wisdom from the Proverbs says, “Without consultation and wise advice, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they are established and succeed”.  When seeking counsel ask yourself, “does the person giving counsel have a track record of success in the area I desire to succeed?” Also consider if they have your best interest in mind. Constructive criticism may sting at the moment but will pay big dividends in the long haul.

4.  Look for the “grain of truth”

Often what is being said when being criticized is neither 100% false or 100% true.

Even if the criticism is 99% wrong the 1% truth holds powerful keys for greatness. Share on X

It is our nature to want to be right.  We argue, defend and try to prove how the other person is wrong.  Wisdom, however, allows us to look for the “grain of truth” and work on that thing.  Doing so helps us remove our blind spots and truly step into our greatness

5.  Live for an Audience of ONE

Life becomes much simpler when we live for an audience of one. The One that matters most (God).  I’m sure you have discovered People pleasing is exhausting.  Public opinion, even morality and ethics changes with the tide.

Rick Warren, author or the mega best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For, was recently interviewed and shared this gem

“If the criticism is true, leaders should listen and learn from it. If it is untrue, ignore it, Leaders require a tender heart and a tough skin,and cannot let criticism bother . Keep your eyes on Jesus (and) live for an audience of one,”

Watch out for the Boomerang

When it comes to criticism, judging or being self-righteous Jesus had A LOT to say!  In one of His parable he tells us to stop being concerned about the “speck” in the eye of another and focus instead on the “log” in our own.  I am learning to regularly ask myself how am I being or doing like the person I am judging.  Great insights often follow.  The parable concludes with what I call the boomerang effect, “Whatever I throw out will return back to me.”

” For just as you [hypocritically] judge others so will you be judged; and in accordance with your standard of measure [used to pass out judgment], judgment will be measured to you.” – Matt 7:2 AMP

Final Thoughts

Have you found other great ways to handle criticism?  Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

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