4 Ways to Deal With Criticism at Work

No matter what kind of jobs we have, we always strive for praise and approval. At the beginning of your job or internship, you’re absolutely crushing it because you want to make a good initial impression on your boss and your coworkers. When your boss and coworkers comment on your work and say you’re doing great, it feels good. But what happens that first time they don’t have something positive to say about your work? What do you do to handle the criticism? When criticism comes from your boss or coworkers, as compared to friends or family, it almost stings. It’s normal to have hurt feelings. But how should you deal with criticism in the workplace?

1. Don’t take it personally

Take a deep breath and take a step back, all while trying to separate the personal from the professional. If your work gets criticized, you need to keep in mind that they are not criticizing you or your personality. They may just have a certain way they like their work to be done. Your boss or coworkers may think that they are helping you as compared to hurting you. When this happens, be humble and ask how you think your work can improve. At first it may seem like a personal attack rather than feedback from your superior, but they are trying to help you grow and learn as a professional.

2. Ask for details

Receiving criticism for the first time may hurt and leave you feeling like you have done something wrong. It’s challenging to receive criticism and automatically find the positive in it, or where actually to go from it. If you are not exactly sure what you can improve on or what you could do better next time, speak up! Don’t be afraid to ask. Fully understanding the criticism will help you grow professionally. Ask they what they would recommend you do next time, or ask where you went wrong. This will show that you really care about doing a good job and that you are eager to learn and grow.

3. Realize t​his can be an opportunity to grow

Though criticism may hurt, your boss is giving you feedback so your work can improve and be at its all-time best. Don’t view criticism as an attack; view it as a constructive comment. Think about what your boss or coworker is commenting on, and keep in mind that they have been doing this longer than you and they know the field. It’s a good idea to take any feedback or criticism your boss is offering you, because it will help you grow as a worker and as a professional in the long run.

4. Don’t hyper-focus on it (and know when to move on!)

At first, you may be embarrassed when your work is criticized, which is completely normal. But, if this is your first time having your work criticized, you may replay what happened over and over in your head, picking it apart to the point where it could drive you crazy! Take a step back and realize that dwelling on it will not change anything. Once you use the given criticism to improve your work, let it go—don’t let it play over and over in your head like a scary movie. Criticism is meant to help you get better at your job, not to upset you.

At the end of the day, all of our work has been (or will be) criticized, because nobody is perfect. When you take a step back and learn how to handle it, you’ll feel relieved knowing the criticism will help you grow and improve.