Receiving criticism can be one of the most challenging things to deal with at work. You may worry about whether the negative feedback could affect your performance rating, and in turn, your chances for a raise, promotion and bonus. 

Nobody enjoys being told that they aren’t doing something well, but remember that without negative feedback, you’ll never challenge yourself to improve.

Instead of dwelling on the criticism from your manager, find ways to address the issue, so that the stress from the negative feedback does not affect other aspects of your job or seep into your personal life

Here are six ways to handle the toughest feedback well.

But note that these steps only apply to constructive criticism. Unfair and overly negative feedback is a mark of a workplace bully and other methods of coping are required. 


Listen first. Avoid focusing on how you should respond.


When criticised, you’re likely to feel a surge of emotions. You might find yourself scrambling to find the right thing to say in response.

Instead of that, listen and process what is being said, so you can decide it has merit. 

Try this active listening technique: paraphrase what you are hearing to make sure that you understand the feedback correctly.

This also shows your manager that you are open to the feedback and sets the stage for a calm and productive discussion. 


Ask questions. It will help you process what is being said 

Criticism is often open to misinterpretation, so you need to ask questions for clarity. 

“What” questions will help to draw out helpful information, such as “what makes you say that?”, and you could use the answers to improve the situation.

Avoid the “why” questions, such as “why are you saying this?”, as it could come off as antagonistic and put your manager on the defensive.

The questions should also help you determine what specific actions you need to take to improve. 


Control your emotions  


If you tend to have an emotional reaction to criticism, for instance, getting defensive or crying, thank the person for the feedback and ask for some time to provide a response.

A rash and immediate response is often counterproductive. 


Look for the lesson 

On a piece of paper, write down what the feedback is about, and what it is “not” about, so you can reflect on it in an objective manner.

Get people you can trust to weigh in on the matter to help ensure that you don’t end up taking the criticism personally. 


Explain your own perspective 

The goal here is not to be defensive and to counterattack. It is to explain your view of the situation.

Are you lacking in resources needed to do the job? Could you have better direction or supervision? The more specific you can be with your feedback, the better.

Your manager may not be privy to the entire situation when giving feedback and may be making a judgement without being aware of the full picture. 


Chart out an action plan 

Sit down with your manager and come up with a plan to make positive change. Create a list of things that need to be done and hold yourself to it.

A good manager should not only critique but also give advice on how you can improve.