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The 6 Greatest Life Hacks for Handling Criticism

#3. Smile

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Yes, I'm saying you should smile in the face of criticism. In fact, the bigger your smile, the better.

The old saying that smiling takes far less muscular effort than frowning might not be all that it's cracked up to be, but that's no reason to refrain from turning that goddamn frown upside down. (Yes, we're damn well using cliches at this point.) Smiling can absolutely help you become the lean, mean criticism-handling machine you've always wanted -- nay, needed -- to be, because even a forced smile can totally make you happier. Yep, even though your anger-addled brain sees your critic as the misguided and probably racist jerk that they clearly are, it's completely possible to ease your emotions into a calmer state by simply smiling. Go on, try it. I'll wait.

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Almost there ...

See? Even if your amount of criticism-induced stress is currently ranking somewhere in the Old Faithful ballpark, a smile can reduce it to the levels where you can function as something approaching a regular human being. It doesn't need to be a genuine smile, either -- just a forced, creepy grin will do.

After all, with what you're about to do, a nice, wide slasher smile is only going to be appropriate.

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Yes. Yes. Good.

After perfecting your new Joker outlook on life, you're finally ready to deal with criticism in a manner it deserves. It's time to ...

#2. Reap the Sweet Fruits of Vengeance

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Marcus Aurelius once said, "The best way to confront one's enemy is in the parking lot, as they leave work," and that's as true today as it was when he said it several ... many years ago. At this point, your choice of vehicle becomes extremely important: The more indistinct your car, the better your chances of not really standing out in security-camera footage. It's a shame you don't have anything on hand that could make you similarly inconspicuous, but- Hey, wait. Didn't some smart fella tell you to buy a soothing ski mask earlier? Why not put that on? Wouldn't it be fun?

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They'll know it's you, but you need the mask for effect.

The hideout you have prepared should be located in a place that is conveniently positioned vis-a-vis the site of the abduction. Abandoned shacks and old cellars are go-to choices here. If you're forced to settle on a hideout in a more populated area, noise could become a problem; unless you've been dealing with a lot of negative feedback before, chances are you haven't had the time to soundproof the premises. A simple ball gag will have to suffice.

The method of retaliation should always depend on the nature of the criticism. If you're a numbers cruncher by trade and your professional integrity has been insulted, a terror trap that can be escaped only by completing a string of hellish Excel macro missions is always appropriate. If they're insulting your jokes, strap them to a Clockwork Orange-style contraption where you can subject them to hours of the comedic stylings of Jeff Dunham and Dane Cook. Don't let your revenge be hampered by lack of creativity here -- when constructing your traps, think less Saw and more 1960s Batman.

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If your critic happens to be an actual film critic, you can just cut the middleman and make them watch 1960s Batman.

It is crucial to keep your retribution at the same approximate level of the original criticism. Even the most vocal objection should never be retaliated with more than a couple of hours in the giant squid pit. [Edit: I should have told you to pick up a giant squid pit at the same sporting goods store where you got the ski mask, but I forgot. That's on me. You're a good kid.]

Sportsmanship is also important: After the punishment has taken place, shake the critic's hand and let them know that, as far as you're concerned, you're now even. "Water under the bridge," you amiably shout after them (which -- and I don't want to force your hand or anything -- will carry an added flair of poetry if you'd confronted your critic beneath this really spooky and sparsely populated bridge about 10 miles outside of town that I know about).

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"I don't give a dam!" also works.

And, of course, the water is not under the bridge. It never is. More often than not, they have criticized you plenty more by the time you're done dealing with their initial offense. They've screamed insults at you from the second they woke up and found a way to remove the gag. "Maniac," they call you. "Crazy goddamn idiot." That one guy even tried to punch you. How dare they critique your fine work, goddammit? It's almost as if they didn't appreciate the hours of effort you put into this. But they will pay. They will all pay! Ahaha. AHAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHA!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! AAAAHHHAHAHAHA-

#1. Embrace Criticism and Learn from It

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At the end of the day, criticism is not necessarily a bad thing. Granted, some of it is mean-spirited, but most of the hurt we take from it is due to a phenomenon known as narcissistic injury: Whenever someone criticizes something we do, our ego reacts by assuming it has been punched right in the dick. This is our biggest challenge in dealing with criticism, and one that we ultimately need to conquer if we want to be able to embrace it.

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Of course, some critics do communicate entirely with dick punches.

Yes, it is perfectly possible to take criticism as a positive force. In fact, if you want to learn from it, this is a necessity; the ability to handle your shit when it comes to criticism is one of the few sure-fire recipes for improving yourself, especially in a work environment.

The possible negative feelings criticism may initially cause can -- and should -- be handled exclusively within your own head, and it is highly inadvisable to take those feelings out on your critic. Despite what I might have accidentally stated earlier, you should never physically retaliate on them. Under no circumstances at all should you build Adam West-themed dungeons beneath that sick bridge with "Pauli's Revenge-o-Rama" painted anywhere on or around the premises. And whatever you do, absolutely never drunkenly abduct Dean from Marketing and attempt to chain him up down there. No, not even if he did passingly mention to you that not wearing pants in meetings is kind of unprofessional.

Was that all right, officer? May I go now?

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"For the last time, not until you explain what happened to Fred from accounting."

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