Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
WORKPLACE / FEB. 10, 2014
version 2, draft 2

How to Handle Criticism at Work

If you have ever worked in any business, then you have faced some sort of criticism from your superiors. One of the key things that people have to learn when they are maturing in the workplace is how to handle criticism and the different types of criticism awaiting them. Hopefully, this guide will give you a bit of insight on how to deal with this eventuality, no matter how far you are into your career.

Types of Criticism

Criticism can come in different forms, but the main two are constructive and destructive criticism. Constructive criticism is when someone points out something, that you are doing wrong, or a mistake that you made and, then ways that you can rectify it. It may not even really be a problem, but just ways that you can improve your work, to make yourself more efficient. In that way it can be more like advice and is a positive thing that helps you grow. Destructive criticism on the other hand is most definitely not a positive thing. It is when someone just points out your faults and gives you no praise whatsoever. They  may just tell you to ‘shape up or ship out’. This does not help people to grow and there is no way to gain positive feedback from this. But if you do find yourself getting positive criticism then here is the way to deal with it.

  • Listen Carefully

It is extremely important that you listen carefully to what the other person has to say. It will let you decide whether or not this is constructive criticism. Let the person finish what they have to say before you answer back to them. It is not only polite but also sensible. If the person is just telling you how you can serve him better, then it is constructive criticism. If they are just telling you that you are useless; then it is destructive.

  • Consider

If they have asked you a question about whether you think you can complete a task, then consider whether it is feasible or not.  Don’t automatically think that you should blame someone else, remember it is constructive criticism. Thinking about how you are going to answer a question, or what they say to you is important because you will usually have a valid answer, or suggestion. They are talking to you because they want valid feedback, not a violent reaction.

  • Stay Calm and Don’t Get Defensive

This is probably the biggest problem people make. When you hear someone saying that you have made a mistake, don’t immediately think that they are chastising you. It might make you feel a bit under attack, especially if given by multiple people, but don’t just start thinking about ways to defend yourself. Stay calm and poised and whatever you do, don’t shout. It can be hard and make you feel bad, but just take a few breaths and realise they are giving you advice, not telling you off like a small child.

  • Answer In a Productive Way

When you do answer make sure that it is calm, does not blame other people and acknowledges what the person has said. You can make suggestions, or ask questions, if you disagree with points that someone has made. Remember not to disagree too much though, because usually, one the most important things to do is decide how to improve yourself. You can even tell these ideas to your superiors to show that you are being proactive and can handle criticism in a mature way.

Dealing with criticism effectively is not rocket science; it just takes a bit of self-control. But if you follow the steps above, then you should not run into any problems, just as long as you are getting constructive criticism. If it is destructive criticism it is probably better just to listen and shut up. Then have a good moan to a friend or partner after work, to let out your anger. A punch bag might not go a miss in this situation either.

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