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Dealing with criticism in the workplace

Not all criticism is bad, and sometimes it can provide feedback that’s valuable to your success. Below are some tips to turn criticism in your favour and add another string to your bow.

You’ve worked incredibly hard on a presentation. You’ve researched diligently and you’re well prepared. As you’re presenting, you feel like your colleagues are on your side. However, out of the corner of the eye, you notice a colleague who isn’t buying your idea. You become distracted as they shoot daggers at you … your blood begins to boil.

At the end of your presentation, your colleague shoots down your ideas in front of your peers. Your heart begins to sink to the depths of your stomach. You feel like your colleague’s critique is a personal attack on your credibility and capability.

Let’s face it, criticism is a fact of life. While usually well-intentioned, it can be pretty difficult to deal with. Unfortunately, if not address properly, it can even get to the stage where it begins to consume every aspect of your life … it adds stress during work hours and invades your thoughts outside the office.

You can’t avoid being criticised, but being able to respond to criticism with dignity and detachment is an important life skill. Not all criticism is bad, and sometimes it can provide feedback that’s valuable to your success. Below are some tips to turn criticism in your favour and add another string to your bow.

Stay calm

Keep your cool and remain calm. Take a deep breath and look the person giving you feedback directly in the eye. As much as you’ll want to, don’t try to clutch at straws defending yourself or snap back with something you’ll regret. Resist the urge to portray defeated body language. Being calm, collected and rational is essential.


If a colleague or superior is giving the criticism, more than likely they’re trying to help you … don’t disregard their feedback even if you don’t have a high opinion of the person. It’s a good idea to employ actively listening techniques like maintaining eye contact, leaning slightly towards the person. Stay objective and allow the person to share their thoughts without interruption. When they’re finished, paraphrase the key points of their criticism in your own words.

Readjust and refocus

When the conversation is over and you have a moment to yourself, take a deep breath and gather your thoughts. Go outside, get some fresh air, and take a short walk. If you’re feeling flustered, have a drink of water and wash your face. Under no circumstances should you take your frustrations out on a bathroom stall.

Don’t take it personally

As difficult as it may sound, try not to take the criticism to heart. It’s natural to feel hurt, but more than likely the criticism isn’t directed at you … in a work situation constructive criticism generally comes with the territory. Try to remove yourself from the situation and focus on what’s being critiqued.


Process the criticism over the next day or two and then request a follow-up with the person to get more clarity and share your perspective. In the meantime, seek advice from close confidants and think about possible solutions.  During the follow-up, avoid engaging in debate about the actual criticism … focus on the root of issues being raised and possible solutions for addressing them.

Take action

Actions speak louder than words. By taking on board a person’s criticism and rectifying the issue, you’re showing a positive attitude, respect, and a commitment to your personal development and growth.

Have you received criticism in the workplace recently? How did you deal with it, and what steps did you take to rectify the issue? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share below!


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