5 tips for coping with criticism

boss talking to employeeCriticism can cut deep, but it doesn’t have to be crippling. Take back your power and learn how to accept criticism without crying, with these tips from Nicki Krawczyk, copywriter and founder of Filthy Rich Writer.

1.  Take a step back. Criti­­cism can bring up strong emotions, but it’s important to not let them overwhelm you. Avoid lashing out or breaking down by separating yourself from the situation as quickly and quietly as possible. Excuse yourself and go to the bathroom until you calm down and regain your clarity. If you are unable to get away, mentally step out of the situation by focusing your thoughts on something more positive.

2.  Carefully let it out. Our first re­­sponse to criticism is often to talk to someone else about it. This helps us gain perspective—and vent. But it’s important to be selective about who you talk to and where you do the talking. Avoid venting at work because you never know who’s listening or where their allegiance lies.

3.  Check back in. Although it may be the last thing you want to do, check back in with the person who criticized you. Take time to get to the bottom of the criticism by asking specific questions about her feedback. This will help bring clarity to the situation, and you may discover she didn’t even realize she was coming across as critical.

4.  Put it in context. Under all criticism is a point, albeit a seemingly harsh one. Try to see the point and apply it to the larger picture—for example, if your boss says “This article is terrible; did you put even the smallest thought into it?” ask yourself what she’s really saying. Perhaps it wasn’t totally thought-out or developed. Then ask yourself how you can apply that insight to improve your overall performance.

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5.  Know your style. Feedback comes in all shapes and sizes. For example, some bosses give feedback right away while others wait; some bosses prefer having face-to-face discussions while others prefer itemized lists or email. Understanding your ideal feedback style will help you express to your boss the format that works best for you, hopefully easing the blow of criticism when it inevitably comes your way.

— Adapted from “The Secret to Dealing with Criticism (and Avoiding Tears) at Work,” Nicki Krawczyk, Brazen Careerist’s Brazen Life blog.