A Few Tips on How To Handle Criticism Gracefully

handle feedback gracefully


Jul. 15 2015, Published 3:30 a.m. ET

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Most projects ultimately benefit from outside professional opinions. The hard part is standing there and listening to someone picking all your hard work apart. Here are a few tips for making it through constructive criticism like a pro.

Stay calm

Depending on what’s being said, this can be extremely difficult. It’s very easy to leap to the defensive when someone is criticizing your work. When you begin to engage with the person about your work, keep your responses very measured and professional. If you start getting angry, the constructive criticism could very quickly take a turn for personal criticism. Head this off by not interrupting when the person is talking or getting into shouting matches. Calm is generally classy.

Make sure you listen to what is being said

Take notes if you can. If there’s a point you don’t understand, ask them to expand on it so you’ll be clear on their take. After the conversation is over, you’ll have a list of things you may not have considered before to think about. Having an outsider’s perspective on your work is really important, so don’t take this lightly.

Accept feeling annoyed

Someone is saying your work isn’t perfect. It might hurt, but it’s ultimately a good thing. This is the work equivalent of feeling the burn at the gym on leg day. Sometimes you just have to push through unpleasant things to get to the good part. It’s a pretty normal reaction; just make sure you don’t let it get the best of you.

Once you’re in control of your feelings and you’ve gotten a list of criticisms, it’s time to take a cool-headed look at them and re-vamp your work accordingly. It’s important to note you do not have to follow every piece of criticism you receive. Your great-aunt Glenda is going to have different ideas than the industry insider you sat next to at a conference. Think critically about what you’ve been told, and decide which things have potential to move your work forward. Work on implementing those, and after you’re done, go out and seek more constructive criticism! Building something you love is a process, and if it’s something you truly care about, do what it takes to make it your best work.

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