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6 Steps to Deal with Criticism

6 Steps to Deal with Criticism

Jose Garcia

Ever feel deflated after going through a critique with your boss? Do you feel personally assaulted when someone criticizes your work? Dealing with criticism can be difficult, but learning how to deal with it may be one of the most important skills you ever need. Being open to feedback improves communication in relationships and in the workplace.

In her book How to Deal with Criticism, Dr. Hendrie Weisenger says criticism is necessary because it tells us what is most important in our lives. In business, organizations grow or fall based on performance and task evaluations. In relationships, giving and taking criticism with a positive approach is the key to understanding preferences, and helps you grow together. Research shows the better you deal with criticism, the better off you’ll be.

Having trouble accepting criticism? Here are five steps to help you!

Don’t Take It Personally!

When criticized, you need to stay calm and not take it personally. Reacting emotionally will only make the situation worse. Behavioral research has shown emotional reactions are negative regardless of whether the criticism itself is good or bad.

Dr. Weisenger says this happens because people are emotional beings wired by their environment to think negatively of criticism. Society says self-confidence is always good and hard work alone should move us forward in our careers. This thinking preys on our status anxiety, grows our ego, and makes us resistant to change. If a writer’s editor says an article needs a tweak, the writer is bound to resist, even if it’s good advice. Using emotions on criticism isn’t constructive.

You need to understand criticism often isn’t based on hard facts — critics have a subjective point of view, too. An artist can be criticized for innovation (“The painting is too weird!”) or for following conventions closely (“Ugh, it’s paint-by-numbers!”). Results don’t always matter either. A lawyer’s style can be criticized even if he wins all his cases. Everyone deals with criticism, no matter how smart, educated, successful, or talented they are.

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