Dear HR Professionals, As we all have faced critical situations during our professional work career some or the other way like backbiting/ comments/ criticism/ murmuring/ rumours etc . Today I am focusing on one of the major issues of criticism at work place. At times it is hard to handle but if you really keep a positive approach toward it, can easily lead.

Criticism at work can affect every part of your life, adding stress during work hours and invading your thoughts outside the office. If you don\'t handle it well, negative feedback from your superiors and colleagues can ultimately derail your career. You can\'t prevent being criticized, but controlling your own reaction can turn a negative situation into a positive one.

\"People too often take criticism as a personal attack or as a signal that all the things they\'ve done right aren\'t being appreciated,\" I think not all criticism is bad, and sometimes it can provide feedback that\'s valuable to your success. Here are six tips for dealing with criticism at work:

1)Take time to really listen:

If a colleague or higher-up has something negative to say, don\'t disregard their comments even if you don\'t have a high opinion of the person. Instead of shutting down, stay objective about what he or she is saying (just as you would in any other situation).

\"Be genuinely open to hearing what the other person is saying and try not to interrupt or jump to conclusions,\" Try to listen what they want to communicate not what you want to listen- don’t be selective listener. I also suggest using active listening techniques throughout the conversation like paraphrasing what you\'re hearing in your own words and making eye contact to show you\'re actively engaged.

2)Ask questions:

Even the slightest bit of negative criticism is easy to misinterpret.

Be prepared to ask follow-up questions during the conversation in order to prevent a bigger misunderstanding down the road. Asking questions not only shows that you\'re eager to figure out a solution, but the colleague\'s responses can help you gauge whether the negative feedback is relevant.

\"Ask for specific examples and instances of the types of behaviour that are at the root of the feedback,” \"If the atmosphere is becoming tense, introduce a more positive approach by asking for examples of the behaviour your reviewer would like to see more of.\"

3)Don\'t get defensive:

Whether at work or at home, it\'s easy to get defensive when being criticized. Fight the urge and give your boss or co-worker a fair chance to express his or her thoughts. \"The person giving you the feedback might have a reasonable point, which you\'ll never pick up on if you is busy thinking about how to defend yourself,\" says Green.

4)Stay calm:

Don\'t lose your cool, especially in a professional setting. \"Being calm and rational is essential,\" Save your anger for discussing the incident outside of work.

Think about whether it\'s the feedback or how it was given that\'s making you angry. Most of the time it\'s how the negative feedback was delivered rather than the content that people find offensive. I strongly recommend \"If feedback is presented in a constructive environment, criticism can be more easily digested\".

5)Determine if it\'s accurate:

Even if the criticism was conveyed in a startling way, there might be some truth to what your boss or colleague is saying. \"Don\'t brush it off\".

\"Responding with a brusque \'okay\' and nothing more makes it look like you\'re just interested in ending the conversation\". Instead, take a step back to assess the situation. Speak to mentors, family members or others in your office to help you understand whether the criticism is valid.

6)Address the problem:

No matter who\'s at fault, it\'s important to address the problem, whether it\'s changing your own actions, acknowledging a misunderstanding or looking for others to change their ways.

If the negative feedback is coming from your boss, accepting the feedback can help you improve in the future. \"When your boss sees that you can handle a little criticism without blowing it up into a huge uncomfortable discussion, he/she will get increasingly more candid and helpful feedback\".

Share your thoughts in the comments.

From India, Pune
Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Learning & Teaching Fellow (retired)
Industrial Relations
Aakrati Gupta
It Recruiter

Dear Aakrati,

You have posted the article. Fine, but let your activity have some critical scrutiny. The last sentence of your post tells us to share our thoughts and comments. These are as below. You have copied the article from the following link:

Six Ways to Deal with Criticism at Work -

The original article was posted on June 8, 2012 in WSJ. What is so great about "copy and paste" work and that too without mentioning the source of the article? All that you could have done was to share the link.

Secondly, have you implemented the contents of the article any time? What was your experience? How many days or months it took to master criticism at work? Did you fail any time while mastering these skills?

Have you done survey of your workplace? Was their failure to handle criticism properly? Of the six points mentioned in the article, which points were not followed and how many times? What was the outcome of not following the contents of the article?

Aakrati, do not get me wrong but implementation of anything is far more important. It would have been far better if you had shared your own experience. Leadership lies in practical implementation and not educating others. For few, educating to others is their pastime. Now whether to pick up this habit or not is your choice.


Dinesh V Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear Aakrati,

Dinesh Divekar has given you some sound advice, which I hope you will take it in the right spirit. Dinesh has saved my time in searching the web for the source of your post, and I thank him for that.

I will take this opportunity to pass some general advice to bloggers. It's not a crime to cut/copy and paste material found on the web. However, what is not acceptable is doing so without giving due attribution to the original author(s). For example, by opening the link provided by Dinesh, I found that most of the content in your post was posted by Alina Dizik, under the heading "Six Ways to Deal with Criticism at Work". Had you paid attention to the good practice of Alinia Dizik, you would have noticed that she clearly attributes the following statement to Allison Green thus.

"You can't prevent being criticized, but controlling your own reaction can turn a negative situation into a positive one, says Alison Green, author of the Ask a Manager blog. "People too often take criticism as a personal attack, or as a signal that all the things they've done right aren't being appreciated," Green explains.""

Under "Take time to really listen", the quotation "Be genuinely open to hearing what the other person is saying and try not to interrupt or jump to conclusions," is a saying by Curtis Odom, principal of Prescient Talent Strategist, a Boston-based talent management firm, according to Aliana Dizik.

Thus, you can be alleged to have committed Plagiarism, and may be violated the Copyright owned by the Wall Street Journal in which Aliana Dizik's article appeared.

From United Kingdom
Respected Dinesh Sir,

First of all I would like to say thanks for the wonderful and valuable advice, also at the same time please accept my apologies on it. There was no intention to education others when I literally need to be educated by own.

Even I was not at all aware about the post, the link is exactly copied, actually I have received a mail couple of months back with the same post, I was glad after reading it because somewhere or the other I was facing unnecessary fuss and issue at my work place.

I have tried implemented it on me and some how it worked with me. But by the time I wanted to know more about it so without knowing the origin of the article I have reposted it here, so that I can get more views. And I can improve my work. I would like to share why I wanted to know more about \"how to handle criticism at work\" because when I have applied it on my professional career instead of understanding me my manager has started telling me \"why you quietly listen all the time what I say\" \"Is there any issue with your communication?\". \"When I ask questions they always make fun in some other native language and says can\'t you understand at one time?\" Every time it is not possible to take every comment/ fun/ harsh language or sayings as feedback. I am ready to adopt any suggestion/ feedback/ advise on my personal as well as professional skills which can add on values or improvement. I am working with one of the leading & renowned MNC which is into IT Telecommunication and in my whole team I am the youngest and only one who has well qualified with MBA degree. They are all having more the 8 to 12+ year of experiences. they all team of 18 people try to dominate me at work place. And after that one by one they come and shows their sympathy. I seriously dont want or look for their sympathy but their help to understand them better. And sometimes I think should I really understand them or not because I am working for the company not for them. \"What do you focus on end result or how work has been done?\" Being a multinational & IT company they still use OLD and LONG methods of working and I try to do all the works with innovation and the techniques where I can save the time and efforts,due to that my team member think that I am showing off that I am more and over qualified than them and trying to flaunt. So every time they try to take flaws in my work. if I do pro-actively my manager says why did not you ask before doing it? and When I ask before doing it she says can\'t you do anything properly or by your own. Tell me sir where to go? I do understand the difference between advising, feedback & leg pulling. They are most senior then me so sometimes I am unable to express openly what exactly I want to say to them. I do agree that at some point of time I may wrong or may take sometime to understand things. But can they comparer their 8 to 10 year of experience with my hardly 1.5 years of exp. in the same domain.Due to this behaviour sometime I feel low,and seems I am wasting my effort and time to explain that I want to help them and work for the company\'s benefits. Please advise how can I grow in such kind of environment without making any noise.

Thankyou \"Dinesh Sir\" and \"Nashbramhall Sir\", for your Valuable advise.

It is a great lesson for me and I promise, will never repost other\'s article. It was not deliberately. Accept my apologies.



From India, Pune
Dear Aakrti,

You have clubbed issues. My comments are as below:

a) First and foremost, simple regret for your "copy and paste" was enough and not profuse apologies.

b) The problem that you have mentioned has nothing to do the with posting of your link. This is where you have clubbed the issues. In fact you should have posted your problem in separate post. By the way, why you have not divided your post in multiple paragraphs?

c) Your problem is different. You wanted to improve the systems and processes but your colleagues are not supportive to your idea. This has got nothing to do with your "ability or inability to deal with criticism".

d) You have not mentioned you work in what department of that IT Telecommunication MNC. What is your designation? By the way, which is this "IT Telecommunication MNC" that has 18 persons in the department and none of them is MBA?

e) If you wanted to improve the processes then did you measure the cycle time of each process? If yes, then for how many time did you measure? By your value addition, what resources could be saved, did you analyse that? Was it time? Human resource or any other resource? Could you do proper Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) and present it to your manager?

f) Why your superiors are reluctant to accept the change? Did you make note of points of their resistance? Did you tally their resistance with that of theory of change management?

g) If your superiors have shown flaws in your work then did you make a note of those? Have you repeated those errors? If yes, then how many times repetition has been done?

h) Coming to the beginning of your post, When your manager was giving feedback, you were "listening quietly". Did you take notes while listening? Did you paraphrase at the end of the feedback on what you have understood from his feedback? Have you maintained any diary to take feedback or it is on some loose sheet that goes somewhere?

i) If your superiors assign some work then hereafter show them the process map of how you would like to handle the work. This will bridge the gap between your and their understanding.

j) Every job demands common sense. Have you failed to show this common sense? Do your superiors feel that Aakriti does not understand basics yet comes up with some hi-fi ideas? By now how many things are on your tip of the tongue?

Final Comments: - I have given this feedback to you that does not mean that your superiors are good and their behaviour is faultless. But then in our career we do not have option to choose our superiors. We have to accept who they are, the way they are. Inability to adapt to the boss is nothing but invitation to change. Lastly, about quitting the employment. But then this may not solve your problem. If not these then there could be new problems at new employment. Therefore, take call on quitting the employment judiciously.

All the best!

Dinesh V Divekar

From India, Bangalore

Dear Harpreet
Here no one is telling you to completely avoid the copy paste article. But the credit must go to the actual blogger. At the bottom of the post we can simply add two or three words. "Source - XXXXXXX" or atleast "Source : Internet" will serve the purpose. That's what our seniors are insisting. If we have healthy mind then we can take the criticism in healthy way or otherwise vise versa.
Dear Aakrati
First of all we must understand that while performing our duty, any criticism comes not on the person but on the post he holds. The HR Manager only being criticized and not the person. If you understand the same then you will not get hot or indulge yourselves in any argument. Keep yourself outside the work premise and let your designation takes on the task. Then you will not have any mental stress or mental agony in work.

From India, Kumbakonam
Dear Aakrati:

It goes without saying that plagiarizing is a serious offense - having said that my words may please not be construed as an offense. If you read carefully between lines, you'll have noticed I've touched on 'criticism.' Primarily, criticism is usually taken to be something negative, but remember it has a positive connotation as well. Generally, most people feel their status/opinion/view/right/perception is being challenged when criticized, forgetting what is being said or pointed at, may in fact be entirely true - and when this happens the outcome is negative and the barriers of understanding and distance emerge. This is often team/organization threatening.

However, if the criticism is unfounded - and this may happen on rare occasions - an open, honest and sincere approach to a transparent dialogue/meeting be entered into, which will create bonds of understanding and trust - and then everyone goes back to his/her workplace with a smile on their lips, and laughter in their hearts!

Let's all together take criticism by the horns!


Arif ur Rehman

From Pakistan, Karachi

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