Constructive Ways to Deal with Criticism

By Harvard Business Review
May 23, 2019

Learning how to be resilient can help you stand your ground and take actions that benefit your organization and your self-worth.

If you don’t know how to handle it, criticism from your colleagues can compromise your health and your confidence. Learning how to be resilient can help you stand your ground and take actions that benefit your organization and your self-worth.

Here are some constructive ways to deal with criticism:

Be prepared: Make a list of ways to respond to critics in the moment. Have them handy in case your brain draws a blank.

Don’t catastrophize: Keep things in perspective. In a meeting or a presentation, say, “I notice you’re frowning. Is it related to what we’ve been discussing?” If the person expresses a concern, gauge the intensity or importance of their disapproval.

Accumulate; don’t react: If it’s the first time you’ve heard a certain judgment, consider the broader picture. Is this a single instance, best set aside until you hear similar comments from others?

Apply the criticism to your role: We often mistake our role for ourselves. Determine whether the criticism is about you or the issues your role naturally evokes.

Don’t isolate yourself: When we’re reeling from criticism, we tend to withdraw. Cultivate a diverse group of people who are invested in your success and seek their perspective and advice.

Don’t try to push through: If your colleagues’ comments are particularly painful, you may find it hard to sleep or eat well. Identify some small activities that help renew your energy, such as journaling or taking a walk, and practice them consistently.

Copyright 2019 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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