receiving criticism

Managing expectations when developing the skill of receiving criticism well

Whenever we are learning a new skill it invariably takes consistent effort and time. When practicing receiving criticism well, be patient with both yourself and the process. Transformation may not come overnight but with consistent effort you’ll reach a stage where you don’t even have to think of it any more and it comes naturally.


Look back to last Friday’s post where you were asked to list how you would like to feel after receiving criticism and keep those notes somewhere where you will see them often to motivate you and inspire you to continue with the work.


Remember you are working towards an empowered, assertive you whereby no one gets away with mistreating you and you are in control of the conversation! To me that is something worth working towards!



Receiving Criticism: How to keep persisting when times get tough

Let’s be frank – it’s never easy to receive criticism and most of the time it brings up very uncomfortable feelings. The good news is that with practice such as role play (never underestimate its power!) and with doing things such as inviting criticism from people you feel safe with (like friends) you’ll be able to develop your assertiveness and diplomacy skills so that it bothers you less.


Receiving Criticism in action: How would the steps in this series help you to achieve your aims?

Spend five minutes outlining how, by using the steps outlined in this series, you would be able to feel the way you would like after receiving criticism (as revealed in doing yesterday’s ‘in action’ exercise).


Receiving Criticism in action: List your aims

How do you want to feel in future after receiving criticism? Take five minutes to list the way you want to feel after receiving criticism in future. For example, do you want to feel empowered, more self-aware, eager to use it as a tool for future development, or even justified, should you have exposed malicious and unconstructive criticism?


Receiving Criticism in action: Did you think the role play was realistic?

When you role played saying sorry, asking for feedback and saying thank you did you think the conversation was realistic? If not, why not? How do you think emotion would impact the conversation? Role play again, this time with the person delivering criticism being more harsh and try your best to respond as outlined in Monday’s series post.


The criticism quandary; How to handle criticism and emerge bigger and better for it Part Four

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock


Last week we examined how vocalizing your agreement to elements of the criticism makes you appear balanced, rational, receptive to what is being communicated and open to changing where necessary. This week we look at how to wrap up the conversation in such a way that it leaves everyone involved feeling not only heard and understood but appreciated also.


The following steps are only relevant to situations where you believe the criticism not to be malicious put downs. Remember valid criticism can still be delivered in an accusatory way and that it is the content of what has been said – not the delivery – you need to focus on.


Say Sorry


Finally apologize for the part you had to play, mentioning whether there were any consequences to your actions that you regret, such as upsetting or offending others.


Ask for Feedback


Ask the person delivering the criticism how they think you could have handled the situation better and really listen to their answer. Then think how you might approach the situation differently in future and communicate this, taking on board any suggestions you feel are appropriate.


Say Thank You


Say thank you to the person who offered the criticism, say that you appreciate it is not an easy thing to do and briefly explain that you are grateful you now have a greater level of self awareness (such as insight into how your behavior impacts others, is perceived or can contribute to difficulties).


What to do Moving Forwards


Problem solve and brainstorm how you will better deal with similar situations in future, taking into account any ideas that were offered to you or you thought of during the conversation. For more on problem solving please read my article titled ‘How to navigate any problem with ease’.


Being open to criticism doesn’t come naturally for most of us, myself included, and when I started to practice these steps it was difficult as I had to let go of my ego and pride. But the more I practiced them, the easier it became and I have no doubt you will find this true for you too. Indeed, by using these steps you are disarming those criticizing you, identifying malicious put downs, diffusing any conflict and taking the opportunity to gain more self awareness and grow into your best self.


Though it may feel like you are making yourself more vulnerable in actual fact you are taking back your personal power and control of an otherwise potentially volatile conversation.


So the next time someone criticizes you don’t get defensive or shout back and disregard it out of hand, choose rather to keep calm and follow the steps – not only may you gain insight into ways you can develop into your best self, you will emerge as a mature and rational individual who others can’t help but respect!


Have you found this series helpful? How do you think you will handle receiving criticism in future? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, support and insight from our community, we’d love to hear from you.


Stay tuned – next month’s hot topic is called ‘Why spending could be damaging your dreams; How to create a budget that supports your life goals’.


Further Resources:

‘The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt’ by Deb Bright, PhD



Has criticism got you anxious or stressed? How to get back to feeling fab

It’s natural to sometimes feel anxious or stressed when receiving criticism however we should never underestimate the impact anxiety and stress has on us. Both stress and anxiety can have far-reaching effects which can seep into almost all areas of our life, leaving us feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.


I always used to get confused between anxiety and stress but my therapist gave me an insightful way to distinguish between them. Whilst anxiety is invariably related to our perception of the future stress is a reaction to the present.


If you think you may be suffering with anxiety or if you often feel anxious when receiving criticism please read my article titled ‘Wars of the mind: How to effectively overcome anxiety’ which uses tried and true cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help reduce and even overcome anxiety.


How to handle criticism (and actually feel good about it)

The most natural reaction to criticism is to feel awful or angry. The beauty about using assertiveness techniques is that it exposes whether the criticism is justified or not and, knowing this, you are then able to decide whether to take it on board or not. But what do you do if it is justified? Do you simply curl up in a ball and feel awful and helpless? Although I have been guilty of this in the past this is very seldom helpful.


The good news is there are so many ways to turn the criticism around so that – rather than feeling like a lost cause and helpless – you can instead feel empowered and optimistic! It’s just a matter of seeing the criticism as an opportunity to exercise empathy and understanding towards others, gain more self awareness, develop more personal responsibility in life and grow into your best self.


Of course this outlook and the process of developing more empathy, personal responsibility and working on improving yourself is never easy but never underestimate the impact of rewards! When you first discover a new weakness you possess and feel low treat yourself with pick me ups and walks (a ten minute walk has been shown to significantly improve mood). Then reward yourself every time you progress in the right direction like reading a self-help book or article, reacting to small things in a new healthier way or big treats like a weekend away for when you achieve a major breakthrough.


Some amazing treats are:


The criticism quandary; How to handle criticism and emerge bigger and better for it Part Three

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock


Last week we looked at asking questions to those that criticize us (negative inquiry). This week we explore how to agree with valid criticism, a technique called negative assertion.


The following steps are only relevant to situations where you believe the criticism not to be malicious put downs. Remember valid criticism can still be delivered in an accusatory way and that it is the content of what has been said – not the delivery – you need to focus on.


Be Honest with Yourself; Negative Assertion


Why your friends can be a lifeline when you receive criticism

Whenever I receive criticism it always helps – once I’ve digested things mind you – to talk it through with a friend. It’s important when considering which friend to talk it through with that you choose carefully. Someone too blunt and it can make your ego even more sensitive whilst a cheerleader friend will not necessarily tell you the complete truth and might sugar coat things.


This is why I always choose one of my good friends who isn’t afraid to tell me the truth but does so in a very sensitive and diplomatic way. She knows me well enough to know that I will carefully consider what she says, neither dismissing it out of hand nor taking it on board as true automatically.


I also always wait to share my feelings with her until I have processed the criticism fully so that I am not overly sensitive or angry about what has been said (which could easily slant the conversation). Sharing your feelings in this way is brave but when discussed with a trusted friend much insight into the validity of the criticism can be gained, increasing your self-awareness and allowing you the opportunity to practice receiving criticism gracefully. When sharing your feelings it also allows you the opportunity to feel loved and accepted no matter whether the criticism is true or false. This love and acceptance shown by friends despite our weaknesses gives us a deep sense of connection, allowing us to better acknowledge and accept our weaknesses for ourselves – which is the first step towards being able to effectively work on them.


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