How to Take Work Criticism Like a Pro

Didn’t get the report you were hoping for? How to make that work for you:


1. Take a breath.  Human Nature typically responds to criticism with gloves on.  You might fight back and make yourself look unappreciative, disrespectful and prideful, or you become passive aggressive and decide to only give the bare minimum in an effort to “show them who’s boss.”  Instead of letting our important, yet sometimes dangerous nature control us, what can you do to make this uncomfortable situation work for you?  You can breathe, listen, and process.  Being a teachable employee makes you a valued employee.  So, instead of flying off the handle, or plotting your secret revenge, take some time to process the criticism.

2. Ask questions. During your meeting, it is advantageous for you to take notes.  After you have listened and heard what your boss has observed about you, follow up with some helpful questions, such as: “thank you for bringing this to my attention, can you please give me a specific example of a time when I was argumentative?”  You could also ask “I really do want to develop my business skills, so I appreciate you taking your time to do this; do you have any resources you could recommend that would help me?”  Showing that you are listening will communicate to your boss that you are a team player.


3. Be Honest.  Taking responsibility for something you could improve on makes you a rock star.  Be the 1 in a million employee who blows their bosses mind by just being honest.   If you agree with them, let them know that and explain what you think has been an obstacle for you.  Do your best to refrain from using others in your explanation; this is your review, not theirs.


4. Consider the Critique.  Take some time alone to really consider your recent job performance, not based on what you think your job should look like, but based on the expectations of your superior.  How honest can you be with yourself?  This is a great opportunity to put your pride aside and grow in your humility.  You want to be the best you can be, right?  Let yourself be teachable in this moment.


 5. If you feel the criticism is unjust:  After you have really given your review some serious consideration, if you still feel that an injustice has occurred, that’s fine, but approach this carefully.  Request a meeting with your boss. Begin your discussion by showing appreciation, throw in your very humble, yet factual clarification, and end with more appreciation and a commitment to working with excellence. Again, please consider this step a few times. Sleep on it, seek wisdom from others (outside of your workplace) and then, consider it some more.

Remember, receiving a report that isn’t ideal from your boss is not a horrible thing.  It means you are worth investing in; they are offering you wisdom and opportunity.  Hear the critique in light of that and you are ready to keep moving up in the world. 


Looking to overcome the obstacles that led to your recent review?