Four Ways to Handle Criticism at Work

We all have bad days from time to time — this is a given but sometimes criticism could feel like an attack. Without lashing back or reaching for the first pint of Ben & Jerry’s (or whatever your vice), there are a few ways to handle criticism to take it for what its worth.

1. Consider the source. As pointed out by a piece on U.S. News & World Report, don’t put too much weight into criticism if it comes from someone who’s not credible or always criticizes everyone. In the piece, Chrissy Scivicque writes, “So who’s giving you this feedback? Is it your boss, whom you respect and want to please? Or is it a co-worker who doesn’t really know what you do all day but thinks she’s got the answer to everything? Sure, people like this might hit the nail on the head once in a while, but don’t give them more attention than they deserve. Concentrate on the feedback that comes from people you respect and whose opinions matter—those who know you, your job, your skills, and your work ethic, and who truly have your best interests at heart.”

2. Pull on your big girl (or guy) pants. Let’s say the critique actually comes from a credible source and could actually be true to form. Gasp! After the initial disappointment the destructive or even constructive criticism hits the ego, try not to take it personally. Be strong. If your skills need improvement, work on them. If a project could have been done more accurately or timely, leverage this as a learning lesson and move on.

3. Listen and gain clarity. Again, without taking it personally or getting defensive, simply listen. Hear the feedback loud and clear. If it’s not clear, ask for further clarification. Gain insight and digest the information that’s been given to you. Try not to put too much weight into it other than realizing this is only going to make you more stellar on the job and the next one, too.

4. Let go of perfection. This is a big one. Newsflash: We’re not perfect! No one is. We all make mistakes, we all have bad days, we are all — let’s say it together now — imperfect. Although hearing negative feedback could be alarming, it’s a fact of life. No one expects you to be perfect nor should you expect others to be either. Scivicque reminds us in the piece, “So let go of that unrealistic expectation. We all have to deal with negative feedback at some point in our career. It’s how you handle it and what you do with it that makes you stand out.”