Dealing With Criticism in the Workplace

Technological devices, financial document with pen, glass of wat


If a colleague or superior tells you that you are doing something wrong, the immediate response for most of us is to become defensive. Don’t. No one likes to be criticized, but often there is a level of merit to another person’s viewpoint (regardless of what you think about them on a personal level). So take a breath and listen to what they have to say. Look them in the eye to show that you are paying attention and allow them to finish without interruption. If the criticism is to do with your behaviour rather than your methodology (calmly) ask them for examples to better understand exactly what they are referring to. Repeat what they have said back to them so that there is no misunderstanding. This will show that you are willing to learn a better way to do the job and that you have respect for their opinion.


There are always bully-types in the work environment but there are also a lot of people who have your best interests at heart and genuinely want to see you succeed. Remember that what you may initially perceive as a verbal assault may be a caring suggestion from someone who is finding it difficult to bring up the subject in the first place. Ask them how the situation could be improved and then listen to what the person says.   Once the feedback has come to its conclusion do not say “OK” and walk away – that just makes you look like you couldn’t care less. Thank them for their suggestion/opinion – and mean it.


Over the next day or two, instead of complaining to your coworkers or family about the incident, ask them if they have noticed similar behaviour. If through reflecting about the incident you recognize that there was merit in the criticism go back to the person and let them know that you understand what they were saying and that you are working on improvement. This shows you as someone who wants to do their best and is appreciative of constructive comment – who knows, you just may find you have a mentor on your side!


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