Best Ways to Respond to Criticism

Criticism. I must admit, I’m not always a big fan of being criticized. It feels like I’m being judged which basically I am. It’s how you respond is the key. Here are some of the best ways to respond to criticism.

Criticism comes in three forms: irrelevant, destructive, constructive.

Irrelevant criticism such as, “they aren’t smart enough,” is best ignored. It doesn’t have anything to do with the situation at hand.

Destructive criticism is delivered as an attack, “You are such a screw-up.” Try to remember that there is something wrong with them and doesn’t have much or anything to do with you. If the situation allows and it won’t make it worse, you can ask, “Help me understand why you think I’m such a screw-up?” It might help the other person tell you what is really going on.

Constructive criticism is meant to help us improve. Example; “I need you to come to the meetings on time.” When done correctly, it is a learning opportunity. Listen carefully and when they are finished, let them know you appreciate their feedback and will consider their input.

Constructive criticism can be useful if it’s based on performance or behavior. We don’t always see our own behaviors in the same way others do and listening to others’ viewpoints can be helpful. Remember, if the feedback is coming from your boss, you want to really pay attention and incorporate their suggestions into your behavior. Even if constructive criticism is coming from a peer or colleague, take it in the way it is intended.

Best Ways to Respond to Criticism:

  • Stop your first reaction. Take a deep breath, quiet your mind, and really listen to what the person is telling you. This allows you to be more objective and hear what they are trying to help you with.
  • Say “thank you.” Thank the person for sharing the feedback with you. This helps remove emotion from the situation. Understand this is meant to help not hurt. And yes, I know it can be hard to do when you are being criticized, yet important
  • Ask questions to clarify what you are hearing. Asking questions helps you make sure you heard and understand what they are saying and gives you clear ways to improve.
  • Request a follow-up. Asking for a follow-up allows you to check-in and see how you’re improving on your performance and provides for additional feedback if necessary.
  • Improve. Use this constructive criticism to improve and get better. We all have blinders on sometimes on how we are performing. Take the feedback as an honest assessment of your performance and know it’s meant to help us improve.

When responding to constructive criticism, you want to be sure to understand where the person is coming from before you say anything. Always ask them to clarify something if you don’t fully understand what they’re saying. Constructive criticism is all about improving. The only thing you need to do is learn from it and adapt your behavior. Responding appropriately to criticism shows your maturity and willingness to improve. Learn to value constructive criticism in the spirit in which it’s offered, helping you improve and develop.

If you would like help improving how you deal with criticism, reach out.

1 Comment

  1. Cherie Milojevich on November 22, 2019 at 11:00 AM

    Thanks for sharing this Bryan. Cherie