Coping with Criticism

Posted by on May 1, 2007 in Success!Ezine For You



E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2007

Criticism. Ouch. No matter how well it’s delivered – it hurts. Successful people like to feel that they’ve got it all together and it’s hard to keep that grand self-image when someone cuts you down. You want to defend yourself. Want to strike back. But resist the impulse. You operate from a position of strength when you understand how you’re coming across in the workplace, so try to take criticism in stride and learn from it.

  • Keep Your Cool

Neutralize the look of horror on your face and resist the temptation to rant and rave when you are criticized. You can express yourself more openly in your personal life but remember that a different repertoire of behavior is necessary when you’re at work. A scowl, no matter how justified, is not going to get you anywhere. Nor is looking stricken and reduced to tears. While managers report seeing this more often nowadays, particularly with younger employees who have been raised to believe that it’s okay to emote freely, such a show can only diminish your stature. Get a grip and compose yourself. If you don’t feel you can respond rationally, keep your mouth shut. There is plenty of time to talk later and you can defend yourself then.

  • Listen to What’s Being Said

Even though you may want to scream, take deep breaths to settle your nerves and muster your best mental focus so you can hear the feedback you’re getting. Yes, there are bosses who are on an ego trip and enjoy blasting you for no reason, but hopefully yours isn’t one of these. Also, it takes time and energy to dish out criticism and many managers won’t put themselves out unless they view you as worth it. So assume that you show potential, that you’re an employee worth developing, and at least hear what’s being said to you.

  • Learn From the Critiques

Once you get over being furious and hurt, you’ll usually find that there’s a kernel of truth in the criticism you receive. Sure, it’s not always justified, but don’t be afraid to look at it more closely. Did a previous boss tell you the same thing? Does your significant other say this about you? Probably something you need to work on. Don’t be afraid to grow. Successful people understand the importance of professional development and realize that if they exhibit attitudes or behaviors that are undermining their performance, they need to do something about this.

Criticism feels lousy even when it’s constructive but is necessary for positive growth. This is how we learn. Fortunately, most managers want to help you get ahead, not hinder you. Take their criticism into consideration and show them how you can shine!


About the Author:

Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,

The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at or call 954.797.9766.

E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262  Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317

Reprint Policy: You are welcome to reprint this article for your personal use and to share with friends and associates.
Contact Dr. Webster to obtain permission for any commercial purposes.