6 Steps to Handle Criticism In The Office

No matter how good you are at your job, you will make an error and get called out on it. The nature and outcome of such interactions depend ultimately on the level of maturity of the affected parties and their attitudes. Whilst you may not be able to control what the other says or does in this situation, you have full control on how you manage yourself to turn criticism of your work into a stepping stone for greatness. If you have just been called in by your supervisor for the “talk”, see below for quick advice on how to handle criticism in the office.


  • 1

    Have Respect For Your Colleagues

    It is common human behavior to see ourselves as better than our peers. When facing criticism from a person you do not think is “fit” to talk to you, you miss the point. No matter what type of corporate structure your workplace is built on, know that respect for your team members and colleagues is one of the pillars professionalism is built on. If you have an inflated sense of self worth, lose it; you do not have to endear yourself to everyone you still a human capable of making errors. Whether your colleagues mean it or not, remember that such opportunities are times for self improvement.

  • 2


    Listening to someone make not-so-positive comments relating to your work can be a very difficult pill to swallow especially if you have a difficult personality. The key however is learning to really listen to what your fellow team member is saying. Listening is different from hearing, just as noise is different from music. You need to be able to pay attention to what you are being told. Most people just switch off in these situations and end up repeating the mistake down the line. Whether you agree or not, remember to at least take note of the other person is saying.

  • 3

    Remain Calm

    Do not be in a haste to respond. Whether you are the type to mount an offensive, defensive or just apologize, calmly process what you have been told. This is where you quickly figure out your response, whether a verbal or electronic one. Your feelings could betray you, causing you to respond in a manner that could embarrass you went the dust settles.

  • 4


    Whatever way you chose to respond, ensure that it is solution-oriented and devoid of any negative undertones such as sarcasm. If you want to own up to the mistake or defend yourself feel free but do not get drawn into a lengthy explanation of who, what, how. Just keep it brief and end on a positive note. If you are unclear on how to proceed next, just be brave and ask.

  • 5

    Take Action As Soon As Possible

    Move to quickly solve the problem if it is something that requires your attention and take your take your time. You do not want to be called out on a mistake you made whilst correcting a mistake. No matter how minor it seems, just do it.

  • 6


    Every now and then you will reflect on the criticism you received, do not take it personally. If you have a fragile sense of self, do not let the scenario playback in your mind and lead you to see yourself as worthless. This is counter-productive and will only turn you into a miserable, anger or vulnerable human being. If it helps talk to your “criticizer” and tell him/her what you did not like about your recent interaction. If you feel cannot talk with this person then find someone you can express your feelings to help you deal with them in a constructive manner

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