How to take criticism at work?

The more you advance in your career, the more feedback and inevitably the more criticism you are most likely to get. This can be challenging to handle for anyone and especially those that aren’t accustomed to it.

Criticism at work can affect every part of your life, adding stress during work hours and overrunning our thoughts outside the office. If you don’t handle it well, negative feedback from your superiors and colleagues can ultimately derail your career.

So, what should you do when confronted with criticism?

Firstly, it is important to determine whether the criticism is constructive or destructive. To know this we first have to answer a few questions: Who criticised you? How was the criticism given? Were the words judgmental? Why was it given? Was it given to hurt me or for my benefit? And most importantly, how does it make me feel?

You can’t prevent being criticised, but controlling your own reaction can turn a negative situation into a positive one. Criticism shouldn’t be only be perceived as something negative, and sometimes it can provide feedback that’s valuable to your success.

When criticised, you need to stay calm and not take it personally. Reacting emotionally will only make the situation worse. So to better manage criticism, try the following:

  1. Keep it professional

Whether you agree with the criticism or not, try not to get judgmental or defensive. It can be easy to get defensive when being criticised. Take the time to rein in your emotions and assess what’s really happening before you respond. Try to listen to what they have to say. Most of times criticism will be coming from someone who genuinely wants to help you progress in your job, so listen to what they have to say.

  1. Try not to take it personally

Yes it can hurt but critic but most of times won’t be directed at you as a person. This is one of the most common mistakes when dealing with criticism. Don’t make assumptions about judgment or criticism seemingly directed at you. Maybe it’s not about you at all, but rather about them and their own perceptions projected onto you.

  1. Take some time to think things through before responding

Sometimes they best way to react is to simply listen and then just take some time to digest what has just been said. By responding in the heat of the moment, you may say something you regret and potential cause damage to your career.

  1. Don’t be afraid to challenge the criticism

Seek a better understanding of which areas you really need to work on and clear examples so that you can fully understand what you could do better. Ensure you ask in a polite and non-defensive way.

  1. See criticism as a way to learn

Remember that all constructive feedback is a sign of interest and a sign that people want to help you do better. It would be far worse for people to notice you doing bad work and not say a word. Try to use criticism wisely and as a learning experience.  See if it is possible to learn a little about how others perceive you, you may be able to use criticism to improve your interpersonal skills.

Learning how to deal with criticism positively is one way that we can improve our interpersonal relationships at work and in our daily life.

Good luck with putting these tips to practice!


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About the Author

Soledad Salazar