top of page

Responding To Criticism Effectively

Written by: Nate Hager, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


What if some dynamite piece of advice slipped past us that could have saved so much frustration? How much time and money could you have saved if you’d listened? We’ve all stumbled across a tip or hack that we wish we’d known years ago, and doesn’t it always seem like those moments are few and far between? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have more of those moments?

As a reader of this magazine, I’m guessing you’re the type of person who’s always looking for that edge to do just a bit better than yesterday. I’m also betting you like to surround yourself with people who think like you and have expertise and experience you’d like to learn from. Most of us want to be in an environment where we could safely ‒ as Simon Sinek describes ‒ be the idiot in the room.

Where am I going with all this? Simply put, at some point you’ve missed a game-changing gold nugget of advice just because your emotional state at the time wasn’t ideal. You see, how criticism is delivered often causes us an element of emotional shift and we block out the resultant advise. As much as we don’t like to admit it, we’re emotional creatures that learned how to think. Raise your hand now if you’ve never taken someone’s criticism personally or poorly. Our emotions act as the filtering system for how we process what’s in front of us. For example, have you ever asked an angry person to calm down? How did that go? Probably not well because your message was distorted through a filter of anger. Or maybe someone you care about was sad about something and you tried your best to cheer them up. Probably didn’t have much better success, right?

Let me share with you a quick mind hack that will allow you to take criticism, or advise, more effectively so it’s not automatically dismissed. After all this article is about not rejecting the good stuff outright. For ten years I’ve been sharing my knowledge of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) and hypnosis with everyone from business owners to military personnel, and anyone else who wants to get more out of that supercomputer we have between our ears. After all, the goal here is to be able to run your own brain. It’s like when you get a new phone, you can go online and look up hacks to squeeze more performance out of it, those not-so-obvious settings that get people asking hey how did you do that?

The human mind works through a series of shortcuts, and it does this to save energy. This prevents us from being bogged down by extraneous considerations when we need to leverage that brainpower. Our brain codes experiences in what NLP refers to as submodalities, think of these as the qualities of the picture in your head – yes it’s there even if you aren’t consciously aware of it. Is it a big picture? How close to you is the image? Where is it in relation to your body? Think of submodalities like a bunch of sticky notes letting your mind know what categories to use. This is how the mind saves energy, by using a quick sorting system. Now, I won’t go too in-depth into this other than what you’ll need to know to make the hack work.

So, let’s warm up and show you how it works with a fun little mental game. Close the office door, find a quite space, get comfy, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Now think of someone you get along with really well. See that person, and really get a sense of where that mental picture is sitting in relation to you.

You may notice their picture sits a little to the left or right, maybe even directly in front of you. It could have a certain distance, near or far. You may notice its size, anything from a postcard to a movie screen. This is excellent work, you’re doing great.

Now open your eyes and close them again and do the same thing with someone you don’t like. Notice how the distance changes, maybe the size and location changes too. What’s interesting here is that the differences in placements and sizes are not random. This is how your mind “codes” how you feel about the two individuals. So how do we use this coding system to take criticism and advice in a way that we can evaluate it and make sure it’s not rejected out of hand. First, picture the words written out in space. Just like we did before, we take that and notice where those words are sitting in relation to where we’re sitting.

If you’re noticing the words are pretty close, this usually means it has more of an emotional impact on us the closer something gets. Likewise, if the image is really big. Now, on a scale of one to ten give it an emotional intensity, one being don’t care and ten being really impactful. Finally, imagine reaching out and grabbing those words and sliding them away from you. Ten feet away, twenty feet away, maybe thirty feet away. Notice how you feel about what you’re reading now. How does the criticism feel as you evaluate it? As you look at the words rate the emotion again. To make it less, move it farther. If you find the emotional level is still too high for your liking, repeat the process another two times. With this hack up your sleeve, you now have the ability to take the criticism and see it as actually useful, or just another opinion.

This process is what we refer to as a pattern in NLP. It’s quick and effective, taking only a few minutes even if repeated multiple times. You can think of a pattern like an app on your phone, and depending on how you want your mind to operate in a certain situation, you run the pattern like you run an app. There are patterns to reduce emotional responses to current or past negative stressors, quickly alter your emotional state to excel in situations, and even change your current beliefs into ones that will serve you better. There are so many more as well, after all NLP was built from modelling how successful people do things incredibly well and then turning their mental pattern into something that can be taught to anyone.

If you have any questions please contact me at

Follow me on LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Nate Hager, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Nate is a board-certified Hypnotist, an NLP Master Practitioner, master level Executive Coach and certified Life & Health Mindset Coach. Over the last ten years, he’s worked with Fortune 500 executives and entrepreneurs helping them eliminate self-sabotage to achieve peak performance, raise their earnings potential and build business empires. Appearing on Rogers Business TV and 98.5’s Good News Only Show, he’s passionate about underscoring the benefits of hypnosis in building a fitness mindset, reducing stress and anxiety, weight management and personal performance. His techniques have shaped the lives of his clients by helping them redefine their identities and bounce back from major life stressors.



  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04


bottom of page