The Attitude Lounge by Kodwo Brumpon: Dealing With Criticisms



“The unborn baby that fears criticism will never be born.” – African Proverb

“I do the very best I know how the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference,” Abraham said, when he was once criticized by his war committee during the American civil war. His words are equal parts humble and inspiring. Not only was he readily responsible for his actions, but he was ready to bite the dust if his campaign failed.

His attitude is a lesson for all of us. He found value in criticism when many of us would have flared up. Too often, too many of us view critical feedback as a direct attack. We forget that the one carving the path, cannot tell if it is crooked. That is why we all need critical feedback. As a matter of fact, many of us will gladly embrace feedback if we perceive it to be constructive. Sadly, because our critics cannot read our minds, nor our emotional state when giving an assessment of our decisions and actions, they let it out the way they also see it; and we basically take it as they are telling us that we are wrong. It is probably not strange that our blood boils when we are criticized.

Criticisms for many of us is a hollowing feeling, but it should not be. The simple reason being that there is no other person out there who can understand life the way we do. And as we project our opinions and ideals, the process challenges us to face the gap between our reality and those of everybody else, especially when we are fortunate enough to receive their feedback, which in turn challenges us to stretch ourselves and close that gap in order to create harmony and good fellow feeling. Many criticisms sound ugly upon first hearing, but they can make us better. They give us a window into how others see you.

Many industrious individuals have let it be known insights from others can be incredibly valuable and can help us broaden our perspective, deepen our understanding, and gain new insights into ourselves and the world around us. Thus, it would be profitable if when we are being given feedback, we consider it important to listen to them attentively. It would help us in evaluating whether the feedback might be useful to us in some way. So, we should strive to pay attention to the words, the tone of voice, and the body language of our critics.

To become better at dealing with criticisms, we need to become emotionally intelligent. This is because our first response to any feedback is emotional. It is positive, we are happy, and we react angrily if it is negative. Our emotions jump into action when we feel attacked. But if we could take a few deep breaths and get our emotions to settle down, we would allow our rational self to take over and our response to the criticism would be better. That is one of the best ways to gain the good in any criticism, for there is no way we can benefit from any feedback if our emotions are out of control.

But we need to learn not to dismiss criticism wholesale, but like Walt Whitman, the American poet, learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. In “Stronger Leaves of Grass,” he wrote “Have you learn’d lessons only of those who admired you and were tender with you? And stood aside for you? Have you not learn’d great lessons from those who reject you, and brace themselves against you? or who treat you with contempt, or dispute the passage with you?”

Harnessing our emotional intelligence would enable us to transform that negative feedback into a learning experience. So, when next you are criticized, look for the good in there, and use to positively. Simply put, we should change the way we think about criticisms. Instead of seeing it in a negative or limiting way, we shift our perspective to see it in a more positive or empowering light within it. Not only would it help us to feel more in control of a situation, but it would empower us to increase our resilience, and the reduce stress and anxiety that often accompanies negativity.

Sometimes, simply changing the way we look at a situation can help us to see it in a more positive light. It would help us change the beliefs that hold us back or limit our potential…


Kodwo Brumpon is a partner at Brumpon & Kobla Ltd, a forward-thinking Pan African management consultancy and social impact firm driven by data analytics, with a focus on understanding the extraordinary potential and needs of organisations and businesses to help them cultivate synergies, that catapults into their strategic growth, and certifies their sustainability.

Comments, suggestions, and requests for talks and training should be sent to him at kodwo@brumponand

Leave a Reply