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How to Accept Criticism With Grace and Appreciation

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How to Accept Criticism With Grace and Appreciation

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

How do you deal with criticism? The first reaction for many of us is to defend ourselves, or worse yet to lash back. And yet, while criticism can be taken as hurtful and demoralizing, it can also be viewed in a positive way: it is honesty, and it can spur us to do better. It’s an opportunity to improve and build up our true talents.


  1. Stop your first reaction. If your first reaction is to lash back at the person giving the criticism, or to become defensive, take a minute before reacting at all. Take a deep breath, and give it a little thought. For example, let a critical email sit in your in-box for at least an hour before replying. Or walk away from someone instead of saying something you’ll regret later. That cooling off time allows you to give it a little more thought beyond your initial reaction. It allows logic to step in, past the emotion. This is not a criticism against emotion, but when it’s a negative emotion, sometimes it can cause more harm than good. So let your emotions run their course, and then respond when you feel calmer.
  2. Turn a negative into a positive. One of the keys to success in anything you do is the ability to find the positive in things that most people see as a negative. Sickness forces you to stop your exercise program? That’s a welcome rest. Tired of your job? That’s a time to rediscover what’s important and to look for a better job. Super typhoon ruined all your possessions? This allows you to realize that your stuff isn’t important, and to be thankful that your loved ones are still alive and safe. You can do the same thing with criticism: find the positive in it. Sure, it may be rude and mean, but in most criticism, you can find a nugget of gold: honest feedback and a suggestion for improvement.
  3. See it as an opportunity to improve — and without that constant improvement, we are just sitting still. Improvement is a good thing. For example, this criticism: “You write about the same things over and over and your blog posts are boring and stale", can be read: “I need to increase the variety of my posts and find new ways of looking at old things.” That’s just one example of course — you can do that with just about any criticism. Sometimes it’s just someone having a bad day, but many times there’s at least a grain of truth in the criticism.
  4. Thank the critic. Even if someone is harsh and rude, thank them. They might have been having a bad day, or maybe they’re just a negative person in general. But even so, your attitude of gratitude will probably catch them off-guard. Thanking a critic can actually win a few of them over. All because of a simple act of saying thank you for the criticism. It’s unexpected, and often appreciated. And even if the critic doesn’t take your “thank you” in a good way, it’s still good to do — for yourself. It’s a way of reminding yourself that the criticism was a good thing for you, a way of keeping yourself humble.

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  5. Learn from the criticism. After seeing criticism in a positive light, and thanking the critic, don’t just move on and go back to business as usual. Actually try to improve. That’s a difficult concept for some people, because they often think that they’re right no matter what. But no one is always right. You, in fact, may be wrong, and the critic may be right. So see if there’s something you can change to make yourself better. And then make that change. Actually strive to do better. You'll end up being glad you made the extra effort.
  6. Be the better person. Too many times we take criticism as a personal attack, as an insult to who we are. But it’s not. Well, perhaps sometimes it is, but we don’t have to take it that way. Take it as a criticism of your actions, not your person. If you do that, you can detach yourself from the criticism emotionally and see what should be done. But the way that many of us handle the criticisms that we see as personal attacks is by attacking back. “I’m not going to let someone talk to me that way.” Especially if this criticism is made in public, such as in the comments of a blog or on a forum. You have to defend yourself, and attack the attacker … right? Wrong. By attacking the attacker, you are stooping to his level. Even if the person was mean or rude, you don’t have to be the same way. You don’t have to commit the same sins. Be the better person.
  7. Stay calm and positive. If you can rise above the petty insults and attacks, and respond in a calm and positive manner to the meat of the criticism, you will be the better person. And guess what? There are two amazing benefits of this:
    1. Others will admire you and think better of you for rising above the attack. Especially if you remain positive and actually take the criticism well.
    2. You will feel better about yourself. By participating in personal attacks, we dirty ourselves. But if we can stay above that level, we feel good about who we are. And that’s the most important benefit of all.

  8. Rise above the criticism. How do you stay above the attacks and be the better person? By removing yourself from the criticism, and looking only at the actions criticized. By seeing the positive in the criticism, and trying to improve. By thanking the critic. And by responding with a positive attitude. A quick example: Someone criticizes something you have written by saying, “You’re an idiot. I don’t understand what x has to do with y.” A good typical response should be to ignore the first sentence. And second, to say something like, “Thanks for giving me an opportunity to clarify that. I don’t think I made it as clear as I should have. What x has to do with y is … blah blah. Thanks for the great question!” And by ignoring the insult, taking it as an opportunity to clarify, thanking the critic, using the opportunity to explain your point further, and staying positive, you have accepted the criticism with grace and appreciation. And in doing so, remained the better person, and you will feel great about yourself.


  • If the criticism persists, use nonviolent communication to make it stop. There are some people who are difficult to deal with, but when they fail to get a reaction from you, they will eventually stop or leave you alone. Plus, others will learn from your example.
  • Ignoring a personal attack might make you look like a better person in some people’s eyes. However, a simple request to the person asking that they not use name-calling would be appropriate. Do not confuse criticism with insults.


  • If you are being constantly attacked, bullied, or verbally abused, you will need to take greater measures to make it stop, such as reporting the person to an authority figure.

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Sources and Citations

  • Original source of article from the very generous Zen Habits. Please feel free to visit and support copyright free information providers.

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Accept Criticism With Grace and Appreciation. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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