Handle Criticism at Work

5 tips on how to handle criticism at work

Criticism is an inevitable part of the growth and professional development process in every workplace. Nobody is perfect, and precisely, the feedback we receive when making a mistake can help us improve and unlock our full potential.

However, how we handle criticism at work is often not the best. Indeed, how we receive and manage it can make a significant difference in our performance and the workplace environment.

The key is to focus our perspective to constructively accept criticism and use it to continually improve our performance.

Handle Criticism at Work

How to handle criticism at work

Why is it hard to handle criticism at work? Generally, no one enjoys being the focus of criticism. However, if we change our perspective, criticism can be seen as another source of information on how to improve our performance.

Accepting criticism in the workplace can be difficult for various reasons. For one, many people associate their personal worth with their job performance, which makes receiving criticism at work feel like a personal attack, triggering unpleasant emotions such as embarrassment or insecurity.

Additionally, social variables may lead people to interpret admitting mistakes as a sign of “weakness” or “incompetence,” which is completely false. Similarly, in work environments where psychological safety is lacking, and instead, a culture of blame or punishment for making mistakes prevails, people may avoid accepting criticism at work for fear of negative consequences.

Constructive Criticism vs. Destructive Criticism

Although we can find a positive side to all types of feedback, the reality is that some criticisms, instead of positively contributing to change, only aim to point out mistakes. Here, we can differentiate between so-called constructive and destructive criticism. Let’s observe the difference:

Constructive CriticismDestructive Criticism
The communication of the criticism is assertive.The communication is aggressive
Focuses on work-related aspectsTurns into personal attacks
Comes with arguments that support the commentThe criticisms are unfair and without valid arguments.
Aims to enhance the person’s skillsDenigrates the other’s work.

In the case of negative or destructive criticisms, it’s crucial to keep your composure and manage the situation constructively. Take a deep breath and try to separate the useful message from the negativity. Evaluate the source of the criticism and seek support if needed.

Remember, destructive criticisms do not define your worth as a person or as a professional. Use the experience as an opportunity to develop skills that prepare us to handle challenging situations in the future.

Criticism at work provides invaluable feedback on our performance and skills. It allows us to identify areas for improvement, discover new perspectives, and strengthen our professional abilities. Moreover, encouraging an environment where criticisms are well-received promotes transparency, open communication, and corporate well-being. This approach to the constructive acceptance of criticisms improves individual performance and contributes to professional recognition within the organisation.

Handle Criticism at Work

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Handling Criticism at Work

Overcoming the described barriers requires practice, self-reflection, and a change of attitude that allows criticism at work to be viewed as an opportunity to grow and improve. Learning to handle criticism constructively is essential for our professional development. Here are some tips for doing so:

Keep an open mind: Instead of viewing criticisms as personal attacks, focus on the underlying message and how you can use it to improve. Maintain a receptive and willing attitude to learn from others’ opinions.

Listen actively: When you receive criticism, take the time to listen carefully to what is being said. Avoid interrupting or making excuses; instead, ask questions to clarify any points you do not fully understand.

Do not take criticisms personally: Remember that the criticisms are about your job performance, not your worth as a person. Separate your emotions from the feedback received and focus on how you can use it to improve.

Thank the feedback: Recognise and thank the person who provided you with the criticism, as it shows that you value their opinion and are committed to your professional growth.

Act on the feedback: Once you have received the criticism, take time to reflect on it and consider how you can apply it in your daily work. Set concrete goals and develop an action plan to implement the necessary changes.

Handle Criticism at Work

Caring for mental well-being in organisations

At ifeel, we know that learning to handle criticism at work constructively is an essential skill in the workplace, especially amidst VUCA environments.

To assist in this process, our team of psychologists specialising in mental well-being has developed a mental well-being program for companies aimed at helping companies enhance employee engagement and boost productivity.

This collaboration allows HR managers to receive personalised, data-based advice on the most effective measures for detecting employee mental health issues and assessing the workplace climate. It’s the best way to understand their needs.

On the other hand, ifeel’s corporate mental well-being solution offers employees a structured mental health care service tailored to their needs at any given time.

We hope you found this article on how to handle criticism at work interesting. If you want more information about our mental well-being program for companies, simply request it, and we will get in touch with your team soon.

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