How to Deal With Criticism at Work


guidance and advice

Receiving criticism at work can feel uncomfortable, no matter how constructively it is delivered.

The truth is that regardless of what stage of your career, you’re likely to receive feedback from your manager at some point.

What’s important is how you respond to it because this can determine whether or not you grow as an individual and grow in your career.

Here are some tips to ensure you handle criticism in the best way possible and even take some positives from it.


It sounds simple, but one of the most common reactions when receiving criticism is to get defensive. Interrupting, making excusing and defending your position are the worst things you can do and are likely to make you feel even more frustrated. Instead, you just need to listen, really listen to what the person is telling you and take on board everything they say at this stage.

Ask for Clarification

If you’re going to gain anything from receiving criticism you need to understand it as fully as possible. This means you should ask questions whether it be asking for specific examples or more details about a time they’re referring to. However, it is essential that you have the right attitude and approach when it comes to asking these questions. You don’t want to come across as being aggressive, defensive or sarcastic so acknowledge what they are saying first and remain calm and professional at all times.  


Once you have all the information, it’s time to evaluate the situation. Try to be open minded and see their perspective, after all there must be a reason they have come to these conclusions. You may want to ask for some constructive advice on how you can improve or simply to reflect on how you think you can improve from a personal perspective. This is also your chance, if you disagree with the criticism, to come up with some rational follow up points to discuss once the initial emotions have subsided.

Turn it in to a positive

Taking criticism on board in a positive and professional way is a testament to your character and shows that you are eager to improve. These qualities won't go unnoticed by your manager and may even influence their decision when considering you for a promotion in future. Acting upon their feedback and strengthening your skills will certainly make you a stand out member of the team so think of it as a brilliant opportunity to grow and develop your performance. This will set you in good stead for the future and having a positive approach will prevent you from dwelling on any negatives.

Follow up

Communication is key and if you really want to progress and develop in your role it’s worth scheduling a follow up chat with your manager once you've had time to process everything. If you’ve actively made changes in line with their feedback this is a great way to highlight them. You may even thank them for drawing attention to ways you can improve. It’s also an opportunity to discuss anything you might have disagreed with now that you’ve had time to reflect. Remember that professionalism is critical in order to get your point across effectively and to ensure you don’t jeopardise your job!

Being the receiver of any type of criticism can dent your pride in the first instance but putting this initial reaction aside, it can be an opportunity to learn about your weaknesses. How else are you supposed to improve and excel if you’re unaware of the specifics?

Focus on the positives, remove the personal factors and use it to further your career development!

Check out our other blogs for plenty more career advice.