How do YOU deal with criticism outside of work?

  1. I'm wondering how other nurses deal with criticism and insults outside of work. At work, it's obvious that you must remain professional. But what about outside of work when you're not in uniform? I've come across a good amount of negative people in my life (family members, mutuals, and strangers) and recently I decided to just turn the other cheek when they speak bad of me, whether it's to my face or not. I'm naturally the type of person to bark back because I noticed that people will continue bothering if you don't. But I've been holding back. I feel like it's risky now. I would NEVER get physical. Never have and never will. But nowadays even words are enough to get you fired from a job.
    Last edit by Brian S. on Sep 14
    •  
  2. 20 Comments

  3. by   NurseCard
    I think that outside of work, just as much as inside of work, we
    are all deserving of respect. Further, I think that insults and such
    both outside and inside of work should be dealt with similarly.
    Not necessarily by "turning the other cheek", but not by
    firing back either. By stating calmly, "oh I'm sorry, I
    really don't appreciate how you are speaking to me"
    "Please show me a little more respect, thank you".

    I will admit, I don't have many occasions outside of work
    in which I'm insulted, talked down to, whatever. I
    guess I'm lucky. Fortunately, here lately, I don't
    get insulted or talked down to at work either, unless
    it is by a patient. In which case I DO usually turn
    the other cheek, change the subject, etc..
  4. by   BSNbeDONE
    What was it that Rhet Butler said in the classic 'Gone with the Wind'? ;-)

    In reality, I don't allow people to get close enough to me to have (or know) anything to be critical of. My immediate family and I have never had issues like those you mentioned. In fact, my being the only daughter, only sister, only mother, and only aunt tends to make my family a little overly-protective at times.

    For any 'flaws' that we have (and there are quite a few), we find humor in them and opportunities to laugh about them when they manifest themselves. Maybe you can take a proactive stance and laugh at yourself first; that'll take away the aggressors' punchline.

    Or, take a few moments to practice being Rhet Butler...with a smile, for best results.
    Last edit by BSNbeDONE on Sep 13 : Reason: spelling
  5. by   RNperdiem
    I think of criticism and insults as very separate things.
    Outside of work I play in a handbell choir. I am not a skilled musician and I know it. Constructive criticism is part of gaining skill in music. I do not take constructive criticism as a personal attack, just a way to help my performance.
    Insults are another matter. Now that I think about it, I don't encounter any. My husband, children, parents, the neighbors, I am scanning my mind and coming up blank here. I suspect a mature, confident woman with strong boundaries, who keeps negative people out commands enough respect to deflect that nonsense.
  6. by   caliotter3
    Once two men sitting across from me in a dining hall were speaking in another language. They were looking directly at me and smirking and laughing. It was obvious they were insulting me behind the assumption that I could not understand them. I asked someone what one of the phrases that I picked up from their conversation meant, and I was correct. They were insulting me. Had I known a retort in their language, I probably would have given them an answer, as it was, they managed to ruin my meal anyway. In hindsight I could have changed seats, but after all I was there first. The thought did occur to me that it takes quite a lot of character and courage to insult someone to their face when you speak in a language not understood by all. I tend to walk away from such behavior. It is impossible to do when it comes from a home health client that I am being paid to encounter for an eight hour shift, a person whose home I would not be within thirty miles of otherwise. I bite my lips until they bleed and spend my paycheck on my basic needs.
  7. by   dream'n
    I was born with a fiery temper, but it is much better as I've gotten older and wiser. At work I'm professional, but have I cussed at a driver that cut me off? Um, yeah. Do I have a sailor's mouth at home sometimes? Um, yeah. Have I responded rudely when spoken to badly outside of work? Um, yeah. I'm a person (and an Irish redhead raised in a large, loud family ), so no I'm not perfect.
  8. by   JKL33
    Quote from misskayy
    I'm naturally the type of person to bark back because I noticed that people will continue bothering if you don't.
    Two things with regard to this. They may keep at it if they sense they might get anywhere with it. When they know it is getting nowhere, they are pretty likely to give up, get distracted, or just get bored. Secondly, and this is hard to hear, no one bothers us unless we are bothered. [There are extremes; I'm not talking about those]. In many different situations (more than most people believe) we get to choose how bothered we are.

    - There can come a time when it makes sense to limit opportunities for negative interactions; in other words sometimes you may have to reduce the time voluntarily spent with such people. I'm not sure where the empowerment to do so comes from, perhaps age, wisdom, realizing that "life's too short," etc.

    - For me there has been a change (with effort) in my processing of others' negativity. I can't take it on anymore. I refuse to. I used to be very negative (defensive) in response to such and then it just "clicked" that I am almost completely responsible for how I feel about this and how I handle it. I can finally see that others' negativity has way more to do with them than me, and that if I don't handle it wisely then I myself am making it my problem too. Being able to walk away is so freeing! Others may see it as weakness and I used to too...until I realized that for me, engaging in tit-for-tat, i.e. what some would call "defending myself" or "not tolerating that" (in other words, not being able to "let it go") was the weakness all along.

    Constructive criticism is different, as mentioned above. That is always welcome when it comes from someone I trust or whom I sense means well for me.

    Luckily I have zero people in my personal life who were ever part of this problem.

    Bottom line, I think one day you just wake up and realize you don't have time to spend on negativity. No time for being negative, and no time for responding to it, either.
  9. by   ItsThatJenGirl
    Constructive criticism I try to learn from.

    But I embrace the idea that what other people think of me is none of my business. I've stopped putting myself in situations with negative people and have surrounded myself with people who believe in me.

    I also got off of most social media sites. It's amazing what that can do for your mental well being.

    There is a lot of peace in realizing that you can't control other people, only your reaction to them.
  10. by   Jory
    If it's happening that frequently with several people, not trying to be mean but you need to look at the common denominator.
  11. by   misskayy
    It doesn't happen that often. It just happens to come from people that I have to see often. I also focus on the negative way too much. I'm aware that I shouldn't, but it's hard not to.
  12. by   ItsThatJenGirl
    Quote from misskayy
    It doesn't happen that often. It just happens to come from people that I have to see often. I also focus on the negative way too much. I'm aware that I shouldn't, but it's hard not to.
    It takes a lot of practice to not focus on the negative. Just realize that however they treat you is a reflection of them, and says nothing about you.
  13. by   aflahe00
    Criticism that's not constructive is just nonsense and you shouldn't even give it a second thought. Might take some practice and time but you gotta learn to let things go or you'll be bothered for the rest of your life. People will always be people. If you don't feed into it and react then it will stop.
  14. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from misskayy
    I'm wondering how other nurses deal with criticism and insults outside of work. At work, it's obvious that you must remain professional. But what about outside of work when you're not in uniform? I've come across a good amount of negative people in my life (family members, mutuals, and strangers) and recently I decided to just turn the other cheek when they speak bad of me, whether it's to my face or not. I'm naturally the type of person to bark back because I noticed that people will continue bothering if you don't. But I've been holding back. I feel like it's risky now. I would NEVER get physical. Never have and never will. But nowadays even words are enough to get you fired from a job.
    Criticism and insults are two different things.

    If it's an insult coming from a stranger, there's probably no need to react at all unless the stranger is persistent. Then you have to evaluate how safe it is to react. (Road rage? Is he going to try to run you off the road, pull out a gun at the next stop light or just flip you off? Are there other people around? Can you safely respond to the insult or is it better to just get the H out of there?)

    If an insult is coming from a friend (what the heck is a "mutual, anyway?") or family member, then you have to wonder why they're insulting you? Have you inadvertently (or thoughtlessly or even deliberately) caused them some sort of problems? Are they angry at something you've done? Or are they just a nasty person? Do you care about them? Do you want them in your life? If they're just a nasty person and you don't care about keeping them in your life, probably best to just ignore them and stay out of their way in the future . . . unless you relish being the subject of gossip for the clever retort you threw at them. Sometimes it's really satisfying to tell off your sister-in-law, for example, but then it's really uncomfortable to have to deal with her at your father-in-law's funeral. If you've pissed them off and they have a legitimate complaint about you, apologize. Depth and length of the apology to depend upon the transgression . . . obviously spilling their beer is at one end of the continuum and sleeping with their SO is at the other. You can still apologize for a legitimate transgression AND decide you don't want them in your life anymore. If you've hurt or offended someone, take the high road and apologize.

    As far as criticism -- again, who is it coming from. If it's coming from a stranger, could they possibly have a real complaint? The stranger who is complaining that you parked him in has a real issue . . . probably best to listen politely and apologize sincerely. The stranger who is criticizing your body habitus deserves no consideration from you. Either ignore them and move on or tell them off and move on. (If it's safe to do so, and if you can do so without having it ruin your mood for the rest of the day.) If it's your primary care provider criticizing you for not having lost the weight you agreed you would lose, that's different. Listen politely and make a new plan.

    If criticism is coming from family and friends, and if you value your relationships, listen carefully to the criticism and think about it carefully before you respond. If your husband is criticizing you for leaving the TV on too loud late at night so he can't sleep, apologize, turn the TV down, use headphones, watch TV in the furthest room from the bedroom -- fix the problem. Most criticism coming from friends and family has at least a kernal of truth in it. You want people you care about to bring you legitimate criticism rather than let it fester until they hate you. So respond to it kindly and change what needs to be changed or negotiate the rest. Not so very much different from responding to criticism at work.

    Most people aren't skilled at delivering criticism -- so respond to the complaint itself, and not to the manner in which it is delivered. You can learn from criticism even when it isn't constructive.

close