How To Calmly Handle Criticism

October 21, 2014


Listen Actively. Yes, criticism often hurts. However, try to understand why you are hearing this particular criticism. Don’t plan a denial; just listen. Then, paraphrase what you hear to ensure you’ve understood correctly.

Don’t become defensive. Take a few minutes to process what you are feeling; don’t let a critical comment destroy your peace of mind. Also, don’t blame the person leveling the criticism, or try to explain it away. Think: is the criticism valid? If so, how can you correct the situation the next time? If not, how can you open a dialog about it?

Ask for specifics. Should you hear “The finance meeting that you arranged was disorganized,” you need to know why the boss thinks so. Once you know the specifics, you can correct the problem going forward. 

Don’t react to anger. If someone delivers criticism in an angry manner, let them know that although their criticism may be valid, you would be able to hear it and accept it better if it were delivered in a calm, rational tone. 

Recognize that criticism can foster growth. Not all criticism is meant to be judgmental; it may be given to help us correct mistakes and improve performance. And almost every critique helps foster problem solving skills. Don’t dwell on criticism; act on it.

Thank your supervisor. Tell the boss that you appreciate his or her comments and will take them to heart. Own up to mistakes you’ve made and take action to enhance your skills and performance. 

Criticism opens us up to new ideas and challenges. Remember, we all make mistakes. Accepting and acting upon constructive criticism shows that you are indeed a professional.



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