So how do you know if someone is a hater or well-meaning, or just doesn't realize their statement could have been better executed?
One personal anecdote I can provide is when I was on a People-to-People Student Ambassador trip to England, Ireland, and Wales during the summer before sophomore year of high school. I was the youngest kid there with the most international experience, as my fellow travelers were mostly juniors/seniors who had never been out of the US. One girl was known for wearing bucket of liquid eyeliner + mascara every day. During the middle of the trip, she was supposed to have been sent home due to her less-than-stellar behavior, but was somehow allowed to stay--and after publicly crying her crocodile tears, I made the offhand comment to a friend at how "different she looked without makeup".
That got me blacklisted and ostracized from everybody faster than if I had revealed myself to be a fan of killing newborn puppies. I'd meant that I had never seen her without makeup and was surprised at the sight of seeing her bare face, but everybody, including the chaperones, took it as my thinking she looked disgusting without the eyeliner. The lead chaperone told me, "if you can't say anything nice, don't say it all", though of course something can be said over their collective knee-jerk reactions...
My point is this--the next time somebody says something to you and your first instinct is to be offended, take three actions first before deciding how you feel and react:
1. Figure out their tone and the context of their criticism
Did they speak in a derisive way? Did the statement come unprovoked, or did you ask for an honest opinion?
2. Decide what is actually being said
Are they stating an irrefutable fact? Or was the delivery of something well-intentioned a catastrophe?
3. Judge whether their criticism can enrich your life
If they're picking on something that you can't change about yourself like physical attributes, don't listen and delete them from every aspect of your life (just try not to physically remove them because murder is illegal and immoral and generally just not cool) because criticizing something a person can't change about themselves is low and pointless.
I had a colleague remark to me once at how when he was talking to our new network that neither of us had previous connection with, he found it "funny that nobody knows you. Nobody knows who you are. I mention 'Justine' and everybody's like, 'who?'". My first reaction was to shut him down with a biting reply that will lead a lasting imprint on him forever and coolly float away, however, I went through my action plan:
1. We had been talking about this new network and it was a relatively early age in our actual relationship with each other. We were friendly, but still getting to figure out our respective personalities.
2. I freely admit to having social anxiety especially when put in a group of 50+ people and expected to mingle seamlessly. And as an introvert, there's only so many introductions I can take before feeling a bit worn-down from putting my warmth and energy into each interaction so I don't accidentally offend the other party or come off as cold.
3. Social anxiety is something I can change about myself, with time. Overcoming this will lead to a better quality of life for me.
Thus, I made the decision to digest his remark and save it in my memory under 'constructive criticism'. In fact, it actually helped me push myself to be a bit friendlier and go out of my way to introducing myself to people, as well as making it a point to follow up and remember little tidbits about everyone I meet.
Doing so helps alleviate the stress people needlessly put on themselves in addition to potentially thwarting a friendship meltdown. Naturally, it is always acceptable to feel resentment at any hints of opposing opinion, Remember, the goal is to go from this: