Dealing with CriticismUnjustified criticism may seem unfair, but the way you respond can turn it into a constructive experience. Try these suggestions for dealing with undeserved, negative feedback in the workplace and other settings.

Dealing With Unwarranted Criticism In General

1. Seek the truth. Even the most farfetched accusations may contain a grain of truth.

• For example, you might not always neglect to close the garage door. However, if you’ve left it open more than once, you’ll be the most likely suspect if your spouse finds it open in the morning.

2. Identify the underlying issues. Conflicts sometimes flare up over minor issues when more serious resentments have been buried.

• Your sister may still be smarting from childhood rivalries when she nags you about your housekeeping. So, your house, messy or not, isn’t the real issue here. Try to work out the real challenges together and let the past go.

3. Collaborate on activities. If you’re frequently butting heads with someone, try consulting them more often. People are more likely to embrace projects when they had an active role in the planning.

4. Provide reassurance. Stress can make people more prone to becoming hypercritical. Empathize with whatever struggles they may be going through and offer sincere praise for their individual strengths. They may soon feel more confidence in you.

5. Remain calm. Whatever is at the root of your conflicts, you’ll make more headway by staying calm. Remember even if what you are saying is correct, the delivery of it makes all the difference in how well it is received.

6. Adopt a compassionate view. Even when you dislike how someone treats you, you can still empathize with them. Considering their position makes it easier to get along with them.

7. Move on. If you know that a person or an event is unlikely to have much impact on your future, you can choose to just let it be. For example, if another commuter honks at you when you have the right-of-way, say nothing and let it go.

Dealing With Unwarranted Criticism in the Workplace

1. Document your work. It’s always good to record your accomplishments. It’s especially important if you believe that you might need evidence to show your supervisor.

2. Put assignments into writing. Be proactive to improve communications. Send your supervisor an email with your understanding of an assignment written out to avoid discrepancies later.

3. Focus on outcomes. Look to the future and create solutions for the things that can be improved.

• You can contribute to tasks outside of your job description like organizing the supply closet, or keeping the coffee break room neat.

4. Build alliances. Your colleagues can provide valuable advice on how to deal with people you find challenging.

• Avoid complaining, but welcome practical suggestions on how to gain more approval.

5. Promote yourself outside the workplace. Work at extending your network outside your office. You’ll get broader feedback for assessing your abilities and performance. Your colleagues may give you a second look if they see that others value your contributions.

6. Look for another position. Face the facts if you’re getting negative reviews and you believe the situation is unlikely to change.

• There may be another position in your organization that would suit you better or it may be time to start job hunting.

• Remaining conscientious about your duties and cooperative in the transition may impress your supervisor and allow you to part on good terms.

Sometimes the best way of dealing with unwarranted criticism is to disregard it. Of course, it can be unwise to ignore your boss, so you want to have additional techniques on hand that will protect your peace of mind and relationships when confronted with negative, inaccurate feedback.

Dr. Tracey Marks
Dr. Tracey Marks

Helping busy people achieve their best through effective lifestyle choices that improve their personal and professional lives.


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