Criticism is a fact of life and a powerful training tool when we understand how to put it to use. We will almost certainly receive criticism (constructive or otherwise) from a supervisor giving feedback and possibly from a client at some point in our professional career. It is important to prepare yourself for all types of criticism in the workplace. With deep breaths and an open mind, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to handle the situation properly.
How to Accept Office Criticism with Grace
1. Be Mindful of Your Body Language
When offered constructive criticism, pay special attention to your body language. Assume a “neutral” posture; keep your arms on the table, in your lap or a combination of both. Maintain eye contact, and be aware of your shifting weight. Avoid crossing your arms, tightening your fists, pursing your lips or rolling your eyes.
2. Arrive Prepared
Reflect back and take an objective look at your past and current performance. Have you made mistakes that have affected the company’s bottom line? Do you have a habit of arriving late or missing deadlines? If so, have an action plan that you have taken (or will take immediately) to remedy your behavior. Bring along a list of positive contributions you’ve made to move the department forward. And, whatever you do, bring a pen and paper to the meeting.
3. Remain Calm and Do Not Respond With Angry Excuses
Often our first instinct is to react defensively. Instead, pause for a moment to allow yourself time to process the critique and then respond in a calm and polished manner. If you fly off the handle when a supervisor gives you a critique, it sends a message that you are not prepared to handle pressure. However, if you accept difficult feedback with a calm and thoughtful demeanor, it shows that you can separate emotion from business – an essential skill for success in the workplace. If you need more time to respond, it is fine to calmly say, “I appreciate you bringing this to my attention and will follow-up with you on how I plan to overcome this challenge.” If you feel the feedback is unduly harsh or unfair, ask for some time to process the information while you formulate your next step.