How to Respond to Criticism at Work, In Relationship and In Interview

Don’t confuse criticism with rejection. Criticism is a form of feedback that offers constructive suggestions for improvement. Rejection is an uninvited decision to not pursue a relationship or project because something just isn’t right.

Criticism provides insight into how you are perceived; rejection reveals that something about who you are doesn’t match the other person’s expectations. Criticism can be unsettling, especially if you have a “Yes Man” syndrome.

You need to know that, while criticism can hurt, it can also be helpful because your boundaries are being established and the threshold for what is acceptable is being raised. Let’s read more about how to respond to criticism.

Criticism Definition

Criticism can also be a form of feedback, and can be helpful in pointing out areas where improvements can be made. However, criticism can also be harmful or hurtful if it is delivered in a negative or aggressive manner.

How to Handle Criticism at Work

Criticism can be particularly tough at work. But without it, you would never know when you are doing something wrong, or if the job requirements have changed and your responsibilities have increased. Let’s look at how do you handle criticism.

1. Take a moment to calm down

If a situation is making you angry, take time to get yourself together. Doing so will make you more effective in dealing with the situation in a positive manner. Your emotional state can have a major impact on your response to criticism, making it less than useful.

It’s natural to feel defensive or upset when you are criticized, but try to take a moment to calm down before reacting.

2. Seek clarification

It is important that you understand the intent behind the criticism, especially if it is a very negative comment. Sometimes, it is just easier to lash out with a response without fully comprehending what has been said. Make sure you know exactly what your critic is saying.

If you don’t understand the criticism or if it is not clear, ask for clarification in a polite manner.

3. Avoid getting defensive

It can be tempting to defend yourself or make excuses when you are criticized, but this can often escalate the situation. Instead, try to listen actively and understand the other person’s perspective.

You don’t have to defend your work. But depending on the criticism, sometimes it can be more helpful to learn how to improve what you’ve done rather than refuse to listen entirely.

4. Look for the truth in the criticism

Try to find the source of encouragement for the criticism. If it is based on your actual performance, then you must accept that you are doing some things well and not so well.

Criticism can be difficult to hear, but try to look for any truth in it. Even if you don’t agree with all of the criticism, there may be some valid points that you can learn from.

5. Respond professionally

Even if you disagree with the criticism, it is important to respond in a professional manner. Thank the person for their feedback and try to find a way to address any valid concerns they may have.

If the criticism is well-founded, then take the time to thank your critic and then implement the changes that will be required of you to improve. When criticism is well-meaning and helpful, it can be a very beneficial tool that can help improve performance.

6. Use it as an opportunity for growth

The ultimate goal for any amount of criticism is for you to improve. If the feedback can be implemented in your professional life, then it can be a great opportunity. Just remember that critics are often wrong and don’t have your best interest at heart.

Criticism can be a learning opportunity. Consider what you can do differently in the future to avoid similar situations or to improve your performance.

How do you Respond to Criticism Interview Question

Although it’s natural to feel defensive when you get criticized, you should respond to negative feedback with an open mind and an objective perspective.

While your first reaction might be to defend yourself or explain away mistakes, it’s more effective in the long-run to use criticism as a learning opportunity.

If you’re asked to comment on your boss’s performance, for example, it’s reasonable to say something like the following: My boss is really hard on himself and other people. Below is how to deal with criticism.

  • Try to understand the point of view of other people.
  • Listen carefully
  • Tell the other person that you understand where she/he comes from, but that your opinion is slightly different.
  • Keep the lines of communication open.
  • Try to keep things in perspective, avoid taking criticism personally and have a thick skin.
  • Don’t let things get too personal, even if you feel insulted.
  • Try to avoid any further confrontations or remarks you might regret in the future by apologizing for offending the other person.
  • Be open to change.
  • Be fair and consistent with your standards of conduct. Prioritize what is really important (i.e. getting credit for good work when possible) and see the criticism as a valuable opportunity to learn something new.
  • Keep your co-workers informed regarding the changes you are making (i.e. having a weekly coaching session, and recording all problems and solutions in a work journal on your computer).

How to Take Criticism in a Relationship

Don’t take it personally. Your partner may be using a specific situation to let off steam about an entirely different issue. Try to keep the criticism in perspective and to realize that it may be about something entirely different than what you think. Let’s look at criticism in relationships.

  • Keep an open mind and listen actively to the criticism being given.
  • Avoid getting defensive and try to understand the other person’s perspective.
  • Seek clarification if the criticism is not clear.
  • Look for the truth in the criticism and consider any valid points that you can learn from.
  • Respond in a positive manner and address any valid concerns that have been raised.
  • Use the criticism as an opportunity for growth and improvement in the relationship.


What are the criticizing examples?

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