Admit it; no one likes
to be criticized. In a typical work day, I receive many comments from
supervisors, co-workers, and students that are uplifting and encouraging.
Occasionally, I receive
a negative comment criticizing something I have done or an action I have taken.
How do you handle criticism? Most of us react on an impulse
and start defending ourselves or even lash back.
By definition, criticism is the judgment
of the merits and faults of the work or actions of an individual or group by
another. To criticize does not necessarily imply to find fault, but the word is
often taken to mean the simple expression of an objection or disapproval.
The goal in receiving criticism is to benefit from it,
thus we call it "constructive criticism." This requires a switch from an
emotional response to a cognitive one. Do not take criticism personally, but
concentrate on the behavior being criticized.
Here are a few tips on how to handle criticism:
Listen carefully with a sense of maturity and
accept the criticism. Do not counterattack or become defensive and start
creating excuses or blaming others.
Do not retaliate or downplay the criticism.
Take notes. It serves two purposes; it shows
interest and it stops you from making an unnecessary emotional response.
Ask for examples of critiqued attitudes
and/or behaviors and probe for more specific information.
To make sure you understand the criticism,
paraphrase what was said.
Reflect on the criticism given to you. If you
agree with it, acknowledge and agree and make plans to rectify. If you do not
agree, take a cautious approach and refute it in a factual, objective, and
unemotional way. It is ok to ask for some time to ponder the criticism.
If you ask for one, be ready to hear it.
If the criticism bothers you (most of the
time it will) admit that it bothers you.
Sincerely thank the critic for the comments
and avoid being sarcastic.
Seek opinions of others to verify or disprove
the criticism. Many times, we cannot see or evaluate our own actions or
It is critical that you act on criticism. If you do not, anger, frustration, and
misunderstanding will build up and the situation may escalate to an
Now, I have shared with you a few tips on how to receive
criticism. My next blog is about dishing one out.
Adapted from Coping with Difficult People by Dr.