It’s never nice when someone points out your flaws. And it’s perfectly normal to be hurt by such comments and – dare we say it – even bear a grudge against the person who made them. But there’s no need to react negatively, here are four ways to make criticism work for you.

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The worst thing you could possibly do in such a situation is get defensive. Instead, take a step back and take some time to collect your thoughts first. Responding instinctively will most likely make you say or do something you’ll regret later. If the criticism was given to you in person, reply with something generic like, “Thanks for letting me know, I’ll keep it in mind for next time”. If the criticism was received through email, don’t reply immediately; take time out then come up with an appropriate – and polite – response.

It’s the main reason why people are afraid to be critical of other people or their work as it’s, unfortunately, how most people react to criticism. If someone passes a negative comment about something you’re wearing or something you’ve made, remember that it’s not you that they think little of, so don’t take it personally. Don’t identify yourself by just one object or task because there’s a lot more to you than that one thing. It’s easier said than done but it’s the best way to not stress yourself out unnecessarily.

Nobody’s perfect therefore it’s normal to be criticised. Think about the comment and if there’s any truth in it. Pay attention to what was said and not to the tone in which it was delivered because compliments are sometimes articulated angrily and insults are not always spewed harshly.

How you react to what’s been said should also depend on who the criticism is coming from. If it’s from someone who you work closely with or knows you well, you should give the comment more weight because it’s more likely that they’re not just being flippant or nasty. But if it’s from someone you hardly know, it’s barely worth paying attention – let alone reacting – to. In such a case, it’s best to just smile and move on.

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