How To Respond To Criticism And Learn From It

How to respond to criticism and learn from it

When someone criticizes you, you usually see it as a personal attack. It feels like an insulting comment that can even be embarrassing, hurtful, and uncomfortable at times. That is why it is often so difficult to respond well to criticism. It’s also why one of your first reactions is usually to get defensive.

But it’s not a good idea to be heavily influenced by someone’s criticism, especially if the criticism isn’t justified. Rather than getting defensive, it’s much better if you can respond assertively to criticism. That way you can learn something from it and avoid being harmed in any way.

First, it is very important to ask yourself questions about the criticism of others. It can be painful, but not everyone has the intention of hurting you. For example, what is their purpose in criticizing you? Why do they do that? What are their reasons?

If someone criticizes you and you don’t think about why this person is so angry, or what makes them react that way, most likely you’ll just get defensive. But if you do not get carried away by your impulses and calm down, everything will go much smoother. If you are in a calm state of mind, you will always see these kinds of situations differently. Maybe this other person isn’t all wrong after all…

You could also decide that the person you are criticizing is wrong, but don’t express that thought. In the end you accept what they tell you. That just makes it easier for them to manipulate you. In addition, your self-esteem will decrease because you don’t respect yourself.

criticize someone

Facing Criticism

If someone doesn’t know how to handle criticism, they usually respond with excuses (“yes, but…”). They try to avoid it at all costs. There are also those who on the surface accept it, but aren’t convinced they need to change.

All these attitudes about criticism are harmful, because they see it as some kind of attack. So that means you’re probably going to feel bad and not be able to learn anything from it.

How do you deal with criticism?

Learning to respond calmly to criticism means you learn to manage your negative emotions. If you’re in a calm frame of mind, you’d better pay attention to what they’re saying and get something out of it. That’s the only way to understand their intentions and determine if they were bad or not.

Criticism is therefore constructive. You can learn from it and use it to improve yourself. And if it was good criticism, but the other person didn’t know how to express it properly, you can show them the right way to do it. It will help keep your relationship good.

On the other hand, they may be trying to manipulate you. However, the best response to that is not anger. You must be able to express what you are thinking and feeling assertively, calmly and calmly. If you don’t react angrily, you’re not giving them a sign of your weaknesses.

If the other person is right and you are wrong, it is best to correct yourself. But if not, you should stick to your opinion. If they persist, it’s best to keep yourself out of them.

If you’re calm about hearing criticism, you can come out of a situation that’s usually unpleasant. But when you respond assertively, you don’t feel attacked and you protect your self-esteem.

Talking couple

Responding successfully to criticism

It is not pleasant to hear criticism. That’s all the more true when you consider that what someone tells you is true. So we’re going to show you how to successfully respond to criticism, and make the most of it.

The first step after receiving criticism is to analyze it and change your internal monologue (what you say and think in your head). For example, you can tell yourself something like: “ I don’t have to prove anything, because no one is attacking me. Listen carefully, because what they say can be helpful. Try to understand what they want. Just because they criticize me doesn’t mean I’ve failed completely.

The next thing to do is evaluate their criticism. This will help you figure out whether you need to change your behavior or whether it’s best to constructively reject what they’ve said to you. To do this, you need to think deeply about the following things:

  • Ask yourself who is criticizing. Are they suitable? Do they know you well enough? Do they know what they are talking about?
  • What purpose does the other have in mind with his criticism? It may be to make you feel bad. But it could also be to try to come to an agreement, or let you know something that bothers them so you can change it.
  • Ask yourself if it’s criticism you’ve heard many times. Is this my first time hearing it or have other people said the same thing?
  • How much energy should I expend in changing myself as a result of this criticism? Maybe it’s not worth it…
  • Think of the emotional atmosphere. The other person may have been angry, so maybe you shouldn’t take it so seriously. Thinking about their emotions can help you see the situation in a different light. We all say things we don’t mean when we’re angry. Sometimes it’s best not to make much of it.
Hands of talking people

How should you respond to justified criticism?

If the answer to whether it is constructive criticism is yes, then there are a few different things you can do. Here they are:

  • Control your emotions. It’s best not to get angry. You have to control your feelings.
  • Don’t be defensive about the criticism. If what they say is true, then there is no need to be defensive. If you do, you’re just wasting time and energy.
  • Listen actively. The right way to respond is to listen actively. In other words, you have to pay attention to their message to really understand what they are telling you. This will help you respond appropriately to their criticism.
  • Ask for more information and look for things that can help you change. This means finding alternatives, not getting angry.
  • Summarize what they told them to make sure you understood. At the end, summarize and ask them if you understood everything they said.
  • Create a strategy for change. Plan things and act in a way that will help you change.

As you can see, there are two ways to respond to criticism. If it’s not right, then you have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. It is important to try to understand why they are criticizing you. If the criticism is justified, then it is best to be assertive. That way you can improve on what they criticize.


Goleman, D.  Working with Emotional Intelligence . A&C Black. 1998.

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