How to Handle Criticism (Part 1 of 3)

No one likes the sting of criticism. Learn how best to deal with it.

Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read
Episode #99

Ouch. That hurt! Did I just get punched? It sure feels that way. Today, quick and dirty tips to effectively handle criticism.

How to Handle Criticism

No one likes the sting of criticism, especially if it was delivered harshly or came unexpectedly. But whether we like it or not, criticism is inevitable. Especially as we build large social networks, make public presentations, or act in positions of leadership. The more people we know, the more may like us--but also the more that may criticize.

Speaker and author, Beth Beutler and I recently had a conversation about how we handle criticism when it comes our way. So I invited Beth to co-write this three-part series with me covering quick and dirty tips to accept criticism professionally and graciously.

Acknowledge Different Perspectives

My older sister, Debbie, recently mentioned that she thought she was better able to handle criticism and professional conflict because of a saying my father instilled in us. He’d say, “Everyone is entitled to their own misguided opinion.” What he meant was that everyone comes to a conversation with different backgrounds, influences and biased perceptions.

He wanted us to understand how important it is to always be open to another person’s perspective and at a minimum, at least have a healthy awareness that other people see things in different ways. He wasn’t suggesting we automatically accept another’s point of view; simply that we accept others may feel differently and we should evaluate other perspectives with an open mind.

Handle Criticism By Practicing a Response

Sometimes you’ll be caught off guard by a criticism, so an initial reaction of anger will be perfectly normal—though you may still regret your reaction later. If you’ve already practiced some healthy responses, you’ll have a better chance of keeping a damaging reaction at bay.

Choose to avoid acting immediately or defensively. Think about what might work best for you. Perhaps you’ll want to turn your face away, take a deep breath, or count to eleven (anyone can count to ten!). If the person delivering the criticism isn’t right in front of you and so you don’t have to react right away, going for a walk, doing yoga, or talking with a friend can help you calm down. Practice your response enough so that you calmly, consistently, and automatically respond to criticism. The last thing you want is to get angry at yourself for poorly handling the situation.


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.