How to Handle Criticism at Work During a Difficult Project

Nikunj Dudhat

Nikunj Dudhat

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: February 23, 2021

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At any workplace, criticism is a part of the job. You may often get criticized by your colleagues or boss. Criticism might be seen as a way of creating an opportunity to improve yourself. This is how most of the motivational quotes and concepts teach you. Even though positive criticism improves us, criticism may make you feel depressed and reduce productivity, which might lead to problems in your career. And, that would lead to criticism. It is a perpetual cycle and in the long term, it may lead to serious problems in your work area and also your mental health. It diminishes work-life balance and it may put our life off track. Thus, you should know how to handle criticism at work carefully and be mature about it.

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Understand how to Handle Criticism at Work

1. Have a Smile

Whenever anyone asks me how to handle criticism at work, I advise them to have a smile when they take up criticism. You might have heard the proverb that a smile is a curve that makes many complicated things straight. If you believe that your colleges are criticizing you unfairly because they are jealous, take these criticisms with a smile. When they see that their criticism is not hurting you, they might get discouraged to continue that behavior. This is the best first line of defense you can have, especially when the criticism is coming from one of your superiors.

Also Read: Manage Team’s Task To Using Online Project Management Apps

2. Listen Carefully

Tips about how to handle criticism at work are not just about making yourself immune to the criticism. Most of the criticism comes from a good intention. According to many, even unfair criticism has a small tip that would make you a little better, tomorrow. You need to listen to these criticisms carefully and sincerely. Try to understand the reason behind their criticisms, and resolve these issues. Improving yourself to give better output would leave no room for others to criticize you.

3. Avoid Impulsive Action

Keeping your head cool is one of the best tips on how to handle criticism at work. Expression of your emotions can be counterproductive for you. Have control over your emotions when you receive criticism at your workplace. Yelling, shouting or crying won’t help you. It will only display your fragile nature and make you, easy prey. Your superior would always want you to act professionally and it is best to keep it that way if you wish to stay in that job for long.

4. Do not Stay Silent

Yes, the last point mentioned not to make an impulsive action. There is a large difference between avoiding impulsive action and doing nothing. If the criticism is unfair, staying silent or doing nothing would not make those problems go away. It should not be your first step. Believe that the said comment is for your own good and try to improve yourself. If the criticism continues, try to work a little harder with a smile. the attack still continues, talk to them before you go to your superior. your superior is the one criticizing you, you can jump the hierarchy level and complain to his superior, but that should be your last option. 

Speaking about the criticism should not involve crying, yelling, or threatening. Talk to them about how you feel and ask them if they could choose to express their opinion is a little less aggressive way. 

5. Don’t Take Every Criticism Personally

The next tip on how to handle criticism at work is not to take every criticism personally. In this world, everyone has the right to express their opinion. And criticism is just another opinion of them. Many people criticize your work, not you. They just didn’t like the output you gave and they thought it can be done better in some other way. Taking it personally would cause stress, which can cause other serious problems in work and your personal life. 

Also Read: Top 8 Causes of Project Failure in 2020

6. Don’t Be Defensive

If there is a list about how to handle criticism at work in the most horrible way, being defensive or placing the blame on others would be the first tip. When you get defensive about a comment, it would make you look less confident. Throwing blame at others would not stop the criticism from flowing in. If the criticism is coming from someone who actually wants you to be better, being defensive would make you look like a lost cause. If someone tells you that your output is not good enough, ask them why and ask them how. When someone criticizes you, ask them questions. If it was an unfair criticism, they would not have a good answer.

There is a difference between defensiveness and explaining facts. You can always recollect facts to express your idea. If you have iron-clad facts that your output or process is right, you can always express it, without yelling or screaming.

7. Ignore Petty Critics

How to handle criticism at work depends on where you are receiving that criticism. If the criticism comes from someone who has control over your work, has a better experience than you and if you believe that the criticism is not unfair, you can act as per the above-stated tips. What to do when you receive criticism from someone who has no heterarchical control over you or who does not have any knowledge about the work you do? The best way to handle is ignoring. If a coder criticizes you about your secretarial skills and you feel that it is unfair, just ignore it.

8. Quit

If nothing works and the environment is getting hostile every day, the next advice on how to handle criticism at work is to quit. Even after all your hard work, if your superiors or colleagues don’t recognize it and criticize you on a daily basis then it is the time to quit the job. But this is the last step you should take when you have exhausted all other options. This way you can save your dignity and you will be able to start a new beginning at another place. 


How to handle criticism at work? Unfortunately, there is no one right answer for it. Each individual is different and each situation is different. However, these tips would help you get a good grip over the situation and help you come over it. The final advice is that criticism is just an opinion of a third-person. This does not mean that it is right, always.

Nikunj Dudhat
A digital marketing and content curator at SoftwareSuggest, a software recommendation platform. I am passionate about Digital Marketing, and all things digital. Also interested in technology and innovation. In my spare time, enjoy playing cricket, and Badminton.

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