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When Criticism Comes With the Job

When Criticism Comes With the Job

On Monday we share information related to HR, relationships, and business communication.

This week we’re focusing on managing criticism. Specifically, criticism from co-workers and customers rather than self-criticism or criticism from family and friends.

On the job, criticism comes at us from outside  – customers, clients, and reviews on social media – and within, from fellow workers, vendors, and managers or a boss (or your team if you’re the manager or boss).

One form of criticism is considered “constructive.” It’s intended to help us do better, or see hidden problems in our blind spots.

But sometimes criticism is really an attack or an attack in disguise. This form of malicious criticism has hurtful intentions or a jealous root.

Bob Dylan said, “Don’t criticize what you don’t understand.” Prince had a different take: “I like constructive criticism from smart people.”

(Honestly, it’s hard to imagine that Prince actually liked or took criticism from anyone, ever.)

It can be difficult to tell malicious from constructive criticism. Personally, I’d rather take a dose of honest criticism than a gallon of false flattery. But there’s another concept that criticism itself is flawed. This view sees it as a simplistic, ineffective approach to solving interpersonal problems.

As Dr. Susan Heitler writes in Psychology Today, “The notion of constructive criticism or complaints is bogus.”

Perhaps the concept of constructive criticism will eventually be overtaken by the practice of giving proactive feedback. Until then, criticism – friendly or not – will remain a fact of work life.

Not being prepared to deal with criticism can severely impact our careers.

Resilience in the face of criticism – deserved or not – is an essential business skill. Don’t let criticism slow you down. Don’t let it trap you in a cycle of anger or even shame. Take whatever lessons you can, and leave the rest.

5 Essential Links About Workplace Criticism

  1. The Wall Street Journal has a great article with a useful graphic: No Tears or Anger: Responding to Negative Feedback
  2. These five strategies will help you survive the dangerous waters of criticism with your self-esteem, and relationships, intact.
  3. Forbes published How to Deal With Really Tough Criticism: Five Steps
  4. “Lifehack posted “7 Effective Ways to Deal With Criticism” (I like #2, “Respond to the suggestions not the tone of the criticism.”)
  5. From, up in Montreal –  “You suck! Now what? The psychology of handling criticism.”

BONUS – two thoughts on how to manage negative reviews and criticism of your business on social media:

5 Ways Brands Respond to Negative Social Media Comments” (Hint: Only One is Effective) and “10 tactics for handling haters on Facebook.”

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