3 Steps to Handle Criticism

One of the greatest fears that we all have in common is the fear of being criticised. It can be the primary reason why people don’t like to speak in public, talk in meetings, even post something on social media sites – all because we’re afraid of what people will say, afraid of how this will look, and we don’t want to be judged.

But without criticism there can be no praise. Think about it – if it was all praise all the time there would be no legitimate judgement and you’d never know if you were actually good at something in the first place.

The key to criticism is how you handle it. Handle it incorrectly and you could establish some real roadblocks and fears that could have a long term effect. Handle it the right way and you could grow in new directions and learn how to handle even bigger hurdles down the road.

Here are a few ways you can not only handle criticism but grow expeditiously because of it:

Be calm.

Anyone’s natural reaction to being criticised would be to get mad and lash out. Blame, diverting or ignoring can be just a few ways that people negatively react to criticism. The best advice is to take it in. 

Feel your blood pressure rise and make a conscious effort to remain calm. Even if that means tuning out for just a moment to calm yourself down, it’s worth missing out on a second or two of feedback so you don’t do or say something you might regret later. 

Counting to five or just zoning out for a minute could give you enough time to pull yourself together and start developing an appropriate reaction plan.


Hearing that you did something wrong or hearing how you could have done it better feels negative. But you can slowly transition it to a positive if you actually listen instead of react.

Is there some truth in their words? Did you rush through the project and make a lot of mistakes? Could you have taken some time to go one step further? If there’s room for improvement, hear it – and take it in.

Getting criticised with no tips to walk away with is wasteful. If you’re going to go through those emotions – pain, embarrassment, anger – that can go along with being criticised, the least you can do is walk away with some guidance so the next time you don’t make the same mistake and have to go through this all over again.

Say thank you.

That’s right. Say thank you.

This is the toughest step. Because out of all the things that you want to say, thank you might be the last thing on your mind. But by saying thank you, you are taking the high road. You are refusing to slip down to an unprofessional level. And, you may find saying thank you will make the criticiser step back a bit, surprised that you are a tough one to knock down, amazed at your resilience. And you know what that gets you? Respect.

If you just can’t seem to push the words “Thank you” from your lips, these others will do:

“I appreciate your feedback.”
“That’s great advice for next time.”
“I’ll work on it.”
“I think with your help, we are going to get there.”
“I hear what you’re saying and I’ll work on your requests.”

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