Would you rather hear you gave a great presentation or feedback saying it was boring and a waste of time? Compliments are easy to take. Criticism isn’t quite as easy. Handling criticism effectively can be invaluable to your long-term success. Few people can take criticism well. You’ll have a big advantage over others if you can.

Here are some tips on handling criticism effectively:

Run it through translation. Walking past you in the hall, your boss says, “What in the world were you thinking telling our customer the project would be done next week! Do you know how far from finished we are? If it all goes south it’s your ass on the line!” Most folks would immediately get defensive and respond to the boss’ tone. But first stand back and run it through translation. What was the boss actually saying?

  1. “I’m worried about the project, it’s behind schedule.”
  2. “I don’t know if we can get it done by the date you promised the client.”
  3. “I’m concerned the relationship with the client will be damaged if we have to revise the completion date.”
  4. “I don’t want the client to think we don’t know what we’re doing if we can’t deliver on what you told them.”
  5. “I hate being responsible for what someone else promised.”

Putting down your defenses and running conversations through a translator allows you to hear what was actually said. The translation might explain why the message was delivered to you in the form of criticism. It provides insight into your boss’ concerns and priorities—valuable information you can use to strengthen your working relationship.

Swallow your pride. No one enjoys hearing about their shortcomings or errors. However, criticism can be a gift. Maybe you’re learning something that would have taken years to figure out on your own. Leave your ego at the door and listen. Develop the ability to find a valuable nugget even in the middle of a minefield.

Be compassionate with yourself. Just because you may have done something the wrong way doesn’t mean you’re less valuable as a person. Give yourself a break. Handling criticism well is one way to show yourself you really do stand above the crowd.

Consider the validity. When criticism comes from the right source, it’s likely to be helpful and true. Be objective and determine if there is truth to the criticism. Sometimes people are operating from false impressions. Not all criticism is valid. It’s up to you to determine if the criticism has any value.

Determine you’re going to do better next time. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to put your new knowledge to the test. Bide your time until that opportunity arrives. This attitude can do wonders for your self-esteem and feeling a sense of control over your life. Just keep trying to improve. There’s always tomorrow to try again.

Constructive criticism from a trusted source can be a great learning opportunity. Commit to viewing criticism as personal development. Acknowledging feedback with appreciation and respect will be noticed.

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