A Guide to Handling Constructive Criticism

Whether you're a student, an employee, or even a relative, chances are you’ve had someone call you into an office or educational setting to talk about performance. Constructive criticism is a common interaction you may face at work or school and it can certainly be disheartening or embarrassing, but it doesn’t have to be all bad. Here are some ways to handle constructive comments for the better.

  1. 1. Stop Your First Initial Reaction

    When on the recieving end of criticism, most people will react poorly and it won’t reflect well on anybody. Try to give the person the benefit of the doubt and remember that it's to help you. Usually you have some time to think about what has just been said to you. It’s a perfect time to process the situation, and it can allow you to stay calm.

  2. 2. Remember the Benefits of Getting Feedback

    More often than not, constructive criticism is meant to help you improve. It's almost never because a person just doesn’t like you. It may come off as rude but it's really meant to help. Take it as a sign that the person cares about your success. It can be hard to do so, but trust me it benefits you to see it as helpful instead of harmful.

  3. 3. Listen Intently

    Listen intently. This can help you ensure that you understand what they’re telling you. After all, they aren’t talking to you just to hear their own voice. At least I hope people aren’t! It’s for your benefit, and it's smart to try to understand it and ask questions if need be. Better to be informed than not.

  4. 4. Don't Become Defensive

    When someone says “you did this wrong” or “you didn’t do this right," it's easy to think of ways to defend yourself and become irritable. Try to avoid becoming upset with the person who is talking to you. The second you let your guard down, it proves that criticism is difficult for you. It 's important to let yourself take the hit so that you can improve.

  5. 5. Be Thankful (or Try)

    As I mentioned before, this is for you, not for them. It can be hard, but look the person in the eye and say ”Thank you for telling me this. I will work my hardest to improve.” Now, this doesn't mean you agree with what the person has told you. It just means that you respect their judgment. Also it shows that you want to get better, and who doesn’t want to do that?

  6. 6. Ask Questions

    This is a great way to show your understanding. Try to use specific examples. ”Have you noticed this before?” “I know sometimes I can be shy around customers, but I’m trying my hardest.” Also, ask for feedback. ”I’d love to hear your take on how I can improve.” Sometimes, a second opinion can make all the difference.

  7. 7. Follow Up

    Hopefully, by the end of the conversation you and the other person understand what's going on. If everything is set in stone, it's a great time to close and move on. However, you can always ask for close monitoring or a follow up conversation. This will give you more time to think of questions and get better, and it's certainly not perceived poorly.

  8. 8. Keep Working Hard

    Sometimes you don't notice what's wrong if anything is until another person brings it to your attention. And it isn't always something you need to change, just something a person noticed. The most important part of constructive criticism is that you're willing to analyze yourself. It will make all the difference.