How to gracefully and gratefully receive criticism at your job

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Criticism, even constructive criticism, can leave us feeling angry, resentful, frustrated, wounded, and sometimes devastated. The way we handle criticism in the workplace is important, as it can either help or hurt our relationships as well as our reputation. Here are some ways to help you receive, accept, and react to criticism in the healthiest, most productive way.


Pause before reacting

Acting on our first reaction is not always good for us. When emotions are high our impulse to react can be so strong that we don’t see an alternative and we can do things that we regret. So, take care of yourself by pausing first: Take a deep breath, walk away, give yourself some time to think it through. Waiting an hour before responding to that email can give you the time you need to calm down so that you can handle the situation in a way that you will be proud of later.


Question your defensiveness

Ask yourself: Why am I so upset by this? Why do I feel so defensive? Often when we are defensive it’s because a fear is bubbling up in us and we are perceiving something or someone as a threat. Often it’s the guilt, shame, and insecurities inside of us that are not allowing the information from our coworker to be received with an open heart. Also, blaming someone else for bringing up something that we are already doubting about ourselves only leads to more guilt, shame, and insecurity. Try to look at and acknowledge the grain of truth of what they are saying – this shows fortitude and self-respect, and will allow you to walk away feeling relief instead of resentment.


Try to be objective

It isn’t easy, but it’s possible to not let our emotions get the best of us. Remind yourself of the reality of the situation so that your personal viewpoint and feelings don’t rule your perception. Asking someone you trust for a reality check can be helpful when you can’t see any other point of view or if you are taking things too personally. “Zooming out” will help you see the bigger, broader, objective picture, which will help criticism feel less personal, less wounding, and maybe even beneficial to your career.


View it as a growth opportunity

By accepting (and not avoiding) the uncomfortable truth, we can grow. Ignoring or deflecting painful feedback only hurts us more because we aren’t allowing ourselves the opportunity to learn something new about ourselves, and then to change and mature. Sometimes that one nugget of truth can be what pushes you forward in your career so take it and harness it for the good of your future self.


Be thankful

When you can get there, thank the other person for their feedback. Remember that it took courage for them to tell you the truth. Often the most painful feedback is what we need to set us in the right direction so show your strength and your appreciation by thanking the critic for taking the time to help you.



We hope these tips helped you. For career guidance from an experienced recruiter, contact us at DW Simpson.