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How to Constructively Handle Criticism at Work

Personal Effectiveness 13th October 2016 Ruchira Karnik

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Dealing positively with criticism at work is extremely important. At some point in your professional life, you will be criticised. It may seem unfair & difficult. However, you can use criticism in a positive manner – as a means to better yourself or in a negative manner – that can cause you stress, anger and lowered self-esteem.
Some of the ways one can employ to handle criticism are:

Is it really criticism?

Most people get their defences up the minute they feel somebody has an opinion different than theirs. It is important to figure out whether the opinion is criticism or an honest, constructive feedback. Instead of being extra sensitive,understand the other person’s outlook. Analyse whether their feedback can be incorporated in any way. Do not reject any idea by labelling it as unacceptable criticism. It might be a stepping stone for you to better yourself.

Understand the intent?

You need to evaluate why are you being criticized? Is it for the betterment of your task quality, behaviour, productivity or is it simply being done to ridicule you? In case the feedback is in your best interest, make the best of this opportunity to learn and to out-perform yourself. However, if the person’s intent is to simply pick on you, then you be assertive and stand up for yourself.

Accept that you are not perfect

Nobody is perfect. If you are good, there is scope to become great. If you are great, there still is scope to become outstanding. Take feedback with a pinch of salt. Look at it as an opportunity to stretch your boundaries and explore your potential further.

Do not take offense easily

If you face criticism at work, do you getting hurt easily and cry at the drop of a hat? Do you stress out the minute anybody criticizes you at work or for your performance? The solution is not to cut the critics out of your life but to toughen up. Do not be over-sensitive. Listen intently to what the other person is saying and weigh the significance of it before dismissing them. Understand that criticism at work is natural. There is a likelihood that you will be judged for your work. The problem is when it becomes personal and the sooner you identify the better.

Is the feedback accurate?

Be completely objective and unbiased in assessing the feedback. Think of every piece of feedback/criticism as a means of improving your knowledge, skills, attitude and efficiency before putting your foot down and rejecting them outright.

Stop making excuses

Do you display a strong displeasure whenever someone is pointing out something to you? This will lead to conflicting situations with the person or demotivate the person to walk up to you and share his honest and valid feedback from the next time. Either way your relationship will suffer & also reduce the probability of you getting a fresh perspective on self-improvement.

Is the criticism destructive?

If you are sure that the intention behind the criticism is destructive, try to find the hidden motive and communicate with the person. Be assertive and empathetic as you do so. Open communication serves the purpose a majority of the time. If that doesn’t help, turn a deaf ear both towards the person and their feedback. Trust yourself while doing so and be confident. Let them criticise your work, but never stop performing of giving your best. Don’t let yourself down.

Remember: If you have received criticism that was delivered in a warm manner only to bring a positive shift in you, take the effort to display your gratitude & appreciation to the person. Thanking people who give you honest criticism is a sign of maturity.


The author of the article is Co-founder of Work Better Training. Work Better Training is one of India’s fastest growing Executive Education and Training firm. The views expressed here are personal.

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