How to Cope With Criticism At Work

We’ve all been in a situation where we have received criticism. Criticism can be constructive or hurtful depending on the critique. Constructive criticism is a way of providing feedback so that you may improve on the work you produce. This kind of criticism often includes helpful corrections and specific suggestions rather than general advice.

However, even though constructive criticism is good for us it never feels that way. It can make you feel as if you have failed in your work or disappointed the critique enough that they had to say something about it.

Like many, I have been the recipient of criticism. It took me some time to learn how to cope well with criticism as I often felt dejected upon hearing what my critique had to say.

I did not cope with criticism well at first but now with the helpful tips below, I have learned how to manage better. If you have had a hard time dealing with criticism know that you are not alone and hopefully the tips below will aid you in coping better as well.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Be Kind to Yourself

When you make mistakes be kind to yourself. Recognize that we are all human and we naturally are flawed. Even if we strive for perfection acknowledge that realistically we will not be able to achieve it constantly.

Understand that when you receive criticism you are not a failure, it is just that your work or behaviour has room for improvement.

Learning how to make peace with a job not well done is difficult but is important for your overall mental wellbeing. You may stumble a bit along the way, but know that you have the capacity to do a good job and you should not doubt it.

You do not have to be bogged down by your failures but instead, treat them as necessary experiences that can boost your work.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Understand Your Critique Has Good Intentions

Unless proven otherwise assume the intentions of the critique are good. Do not assume they are out to get you but instead recognize that they are there to help you. This is definitely a difficult task as it is natural to be defensive about negative things being said about you but try not to take what is said personally.

Do not label the critique as ‘evil’ and dismiss what they are saying as ‘petty remarks’. Doing this will only limit your ability to see past your feelings and hear what is being said.

Use this as an opportunity to understand the critique’s point of view and why they have deemed it necessary to provide you with this feedback.

Even if the critique is criticizing your demeanour at work understand that they may have a good reason for doing so. They are not haphazardly criticizing you to emphasize your flaws, instead, they are most likely noticing in which areas you are lacking.

This is definitely easier said than done but if the critique is a trusted colleague, accept that they may have a different perspective from you and are trying to help.

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

React Appropriately

When you are at work there is a certain level of decorum to be expected. So you must react appropriately in accordance with your surroundings. Instead of replying with the first thought that comes into your mind, remember to take a deep breath before responding to criticism.

You are definitely allowed to feel angry or dispirited by criticism however, it is best to not respond according to these emotions. Acting with these emotions in mind may cause you to say something you regret.

To maintain good communication in the workplace, try to react with these tips in mind instead:

  1. Before responding take a moment to think about what you want to say, taking care not to sound too defensive or emotional.
  2. Asses whether what is being said is constructive criticsm aimed to help you or destructive criticsm aimed to hurt you.
  3. When receiving criticism do not make excuses for your work instead ask for elaboration on what you can improve.
  4. Apologize reasonably for your mistakes and thank them them for their advice.
  5. Ask them for advice on solutions to the problems they have pointed out.
  6. Check in with them or request a follow-up to ensure you heard what they have said and will implement their advice.

If you would like more helpful tips on how to respond to criticism, this article by Lumen Learning proved very useful to me.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Redirect Your Focus On What You Can Learn

Acknowledge how you feel but redirect your focus to what can be learned from what is being said. Try to approach what you have been criticised on logically.

It is easy to get lost in overanalysing the criticism you have received but you can not let the experience impede your work. Experience your emotions but do not get stuck on them and let them take over.

Reframe your thoughts about the criticism. Instead of “they are criticizing me cause I am inadequate, and they think I am bad at my job” change it to “they are telling me this because they trust that I have the ability to do well. I can learn from this experience.”

Let go of what you can not change, rather focus on what you can change. Constructive criticism is for you to learn from and not be dispirited by.

Here are some of the ways to help you manage criticism better. Remember it is natural to feel agitated and disheartened by criticism and you are allowed to feel that way. But do not forget that constructive criticism is aimed to assist your improvement and not aimed to hurt you.


Judith Louis is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
Register at headliner.newswav.com to become one of our content writers now!

*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.

Judith Louis
Author: Judith Louis

A movie enthusiast with a passion for writing