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When we had our routine meeting, the young manager was looking a bit “down”. From our subsequent conversation it emerged that one of his senior colleagues had roundly criticized him during one of their group meetings.

Along with the bouquets come the brick bats. There will always be some amount of criticism, irrespective of what you do. As we used to say” You can’t keep everyone happy”. Some may be delighted at your decision while others may be derisive about it.

I recommend what Marjorie Brody has to say in a Princeton Review article on dealing with criticism:

“Everyone finds himself or herself on the receiving end of criticism from time to time. When this happens, the most important thing is to remain calm and fight the natural instinct to become paranoid or defensive.

5 tips to handle criticism and turn it into a positive learning experience.

  1. Listen. Keep an open mind. Everyone makes mistakes, and we can all use improvement in some areas. Resist the temptation to argue or make excuses.
  2. Consider the source. Does the speaker have the authority, knowledge, and expertise to give you this feedback? Does he or she have an ulterior motive? (Be careful not to invent one, though, just to make yourself feel better.)
  3. Ask for specific examples. Don’t accept generalities such as “poor,” “disappointing,” or “lousy.” Politely ask the speaker to tell you exactly what is wrong. Questions like, “Exactly what was wrong with the presentation” or a request such as, “Help me to understand what you mean by ‘poor'” should help you to get some useful information.
  4. Evaluate the criticism. If it is valid, accept it gracefully and with a positive attitude. Tell the speaker you appreciate his or her comments and be enthusiastic about your willingness and ability to use the suggestions to improve your performance.
  5. Keep the useful information, but let go of the negative feelings. Don’t dwell on the embarrassment of being criticized. Hold your head up high and move on.

Just as we criticize others, we too are criticized. The secret is to deal with the criticism in a way that allows you to carry on – not only unaffected but better prepared for the future.

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