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How to Handle Criticism

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I hate being criticized. Who likes being told what’s wrong with them, their wardrobe, their hair, or their abilities at work and at home? Nobody I know, but sometimes criticism is just a part of life. Here’s how to handle it with grace.


Sometimes when I’m told I’m doing something the wrong way and in my heart of hearts I believe it’s the correct way, I tend to have a knee jerk reaction and want to react right away, but don’t. When you count to ten, take a few deep breaths, or sleep on it, many times you likely won’t be upset if you wait to react. If you are still upset, you at least have had time to gather your thoughts so you don’t say anything hurtful.

Pay Attention

You’re sitting there, getting raked across the coals, nodding along and plotting your responses. That’s actually not what you should be doing. When you’re being criticized, pay attention to what they’re saying, but instead of imagining what you’re going to say when you’re telling them off, take notes. Write down what they’re saying and if anything needs repeating, ask them to repeat it, but rearrange what they’re saying. You’re detached from what they’re saying, but you’re still aware. Writing notes and concentrating on that also helps prevent snappy responses.

Don’t Listen to Those You Don’t Respect

Criticism of your abilities or anything else shouldn’t mean anything coming from people you don’t respect. When you have a big presentation, don’t write it wondering “what will people think?” Write it up thinking, “this was done to the best of my abilities and that’s enough.” Take the energy you spend wondering what others will think and channel that into being creative and open minded. Negative words can impact you more than positive ones, so if someone says something thoughtless or unfounded, don’t listen and don’t change yourself for the worse because of what someone may or may not say.

Admit Fault

No one likes it when something is their fault, but if you accept responsibility, it may very well be construed as a sign of strength. Recently, I had something happen in my life that was a complete and total accident that was very easily explainable and extremely understandable, but I was made out to be an uncaring villain — until the truth came out. It was just easier to accept that what happened was my fault. Even though there were some circumstances beyond my control, I took the blame. Stepping up and taking responsibility is a lot better than watching in the wings as others point the finger of blame. When someone raises their hand, everybody can relax and focus on what can be done differently next time. The outpouring of support from peers meant a lot and it proved to me my team had my back.

When you show that you can hear criticism and accept it calmly, it’s not much fun, but it shows integrity, you’ll likely end up earning respect and improving upon the wonderful self you already are.

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