self improvement

The Art of Taking Criticism

There are lots of people on this planet, and they all have their opinions. That means that all of us should expect to receive lots of criticism in our lifetime. Friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, random strangers…they all have something to say (just as we often do ourselves). And if you have any kind of online presence, you can expect to receive much more criticism, as everyone comes out under the veil of anonymity.

There’s no avoiding this, so we need to be prepared to take criticism in a way that’s going to be best for everyone. Here are some tips for doing just that.

1. Check the critic’s motives

Some critics are not honestly trying to help, but just want to provoke a reaction. If someone attacks you with a nonsensical anonymous comment online, they’re not seriously interested in having a real discussion. You wouldn’t take the bait if a loud drunk wanted to tell you what’s wrong with you, because there’s nothing to be gained by arguing.

With that in mind, whenever you sense that someone is criticizing you without having the intention of helping, don’t lose your temper. Ignore them if you can, or just give a quick response to indicate that you’re not going to bother trying. Then get on with your life.

2. If the critic just gives a vague complaint, ask what you can do better

Sometimes people will say something like “you’re awful,” without explaining why or suggesting what you can do better. Even if we give them the benefit of the doubt in assuming that they’re trying to offer constructive criticism, they need to be much more specific for any good to come of it.

So just ask what you can do better. The nice thing about this is that it’s very easy to ask for details, and then the ball’s in their court. The burden is on them to come up with specifics. If they can’t come up with anything, it’s easy to disregard their criticism.

3. If the critic gives helpful advice, say thanks

If someone’s trying to help you, there’s no need to be defensive. If someone tells you something you can improve, they’ve done you a favor. Because without them, you might have continued to make the same mistakes for years without realizing it.

You don’t need to try to explain why it’s not your fault. Just accept responsibility for it. Be grateful that the other person decided to bring a problem to your attention instead of saying nothing. Remember that they’re trying to help you. So don’t get upset, just say “thank you.”

4. If the critic doesn’t know the whole story, talk to them about it

A lot of times, the situation may be more complex than it appears. People might see what appears to be an obvious solution, without realizing that there are drawbacks to that approach.

If somebody just wants to give you a tip, you can say “OK, thanks” and move on. But sometimes, especially if the other person knows you well, it’s helpful to talk about it.

You can say, “You know, I hear what you’re saying, and I’d really like to be able to do it that way. But the last time I tried something like that, it didn’t work because _________. How can I get around that?”

Assuming this is somebody who’s willing to take the time to talk it out with you, this shows that you really appreciate their opinion. Not to mention that you can get some great insights.

One last tip

Finally, when you’re the one giving advice, be sure to remember how it feels to be on the receiving end! If you think you can help someone, offer your advice, but proceed with caution.

Keep in mind that what’s right for you might not be right for them, and that there might be other sides of the story you’re not considering. And be aware that the other person might be more defensive than you’d expect them to be, especially if they’ve had to deal with many critics whose intentions weren’t as good as yours.

Make a point of taking criticism well, and you’ll be able to deflect pointless attacks while making the most of good advice.

About the writer: Hunter Nuttall wants you to stop sucking and live a life of abundance. Visit his site to learn how to improve your life and your income.

29 Responses to The Art of Taking Criticism

  1. Patrick says:

    Important post. I work with both younger athletes and adults and have found that the younger people tend to be more receptive to feedback and coaching because they don’t get defensive. The same coaching cue may be received differently by each group – the younger ones tend to say thank you and adjust their movement, the adults tend to make excuses for why they did what they did. It seems like kids don’t fear a loss of esteem while adults are concerned with remaining on an equal level.


  2. Simona Rich says:

    It is crucial to determine if the critisism is constructive or destructive.

    Even if you don’t listen to any critics you cannot really go wrong if you feel right about what you do.

    You can only fail if you know in your heart that something is wrong but you keep doing it anyway(usually because of your logical thinking).

  3. Fabrice says:

    Hey Hunter,
    Nice post indeed, I would add that when you give someone a tip/critic, appropriate boy language is important plus a voice tone that matches. you have to be congruent especially when dealing with such delicate matters.

    Patrick, i totally agree with you, as you grow up, up goes your ego. The ego comprises of a set of limiting beliefs that affect our results and the way we interact with people. If someone intends to deal better with criticism, one has to review these set of beliefs and replace them by better ones.

  4. Thanks for this post. Another thing I’ve learned about criticism is that it helps me find out more about myself. If I find my body instinctively tensing up in response to what someone says, finding out what triggered my reaction can help me discover places where I don’t feel fully secure or valuable. Then I can do the inner work to heal those places.

  5. Vincent says:

    Hi Hunter,

    Being able to accept criticism is an important skill to have because that is where we learn what we can do to improve ourselves. The key point is to know whether the criticism is going to be helpful or not, if it is not helpful at all, just do not take it too hard and let it go instead of letting it disturb you.

    Personal Development Blogger

  6. Good stuff! Criticism can be so useful unless we already know it all.

    “He will succeed if he remains firm in principle and goes beyond selfish considerations to mingle freely with those who do not share his feelings, as well as those who do.” – I Ching

  7. Josh says:

    nice post. it would be nice to have a post about how to criticize.
    thank you

  8. Everyone has their own POV for sure.

    Thank goodness for the “C” word. We now know for sure that we are perfect!

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  17. Giving criticism never is hard, it is sometimes taking it that is difficult for people. But you are right, there is a good way and a bad way to give it. Good post. I like this article a lot.

  18. vaishnavi Ragunathan says:

    Wonderful article…

  19. Samm says:

    When I was in a class in high school once about children i was told that you do not pick on the child, it should never be you are bad, It should always be that was bad, what you did. You pick on the action and not the child because picking on the child indicates to that child that they are bad because they got one thing wrong. The same applies to an adult. They don’t suck at life because they forgot to bring home milk, they just did one thing wrong and need to work on that. Focus not on the person, but that action.

  20. prom gowns says:

    This is definitely a blog worth following.

  21. Because of our ego we seldom appreciate criticism . It is important that we listen to what people have to say about us to improve ourselves. 

  22. CMOE says:

    It’s so easy to be outraged when you hear the slightest bit of criticism. This will definitely help people pause first before reacting, and filter what’s being said.

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  24. Mari Ya says:

    we need “critic”, but it’s important from who and why …

  25. Mari Ya says:

    we need “critic”, but it’s important from who and why …

  26. Mari Ya says:

    we need “critic”, but it’s important from who and why …

  27. Mari Ya says:

    we need “critic”, but it’s important from who and why …

  28. Ankur Sharma says:

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    the city of light and wrote,”Plus léger qu’un bouchon j’ai dansé sur les
    flots.” But he was probably just drunk. 

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  29. Nitin R Bodke says:

    What the critic says is correct,but he and me both do not know how to come out of it !

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