No one really likes hearing criticism, mostly because no one likes being told that they’re wrong. Looking deeper, however, no one likes criticism because no one likes being rejected, and that’s what criticism is, right? A rejection of the effort you gave to completing a certain task.

When you’re in a leadership position, or in any position where you work with other people across varying department and leadership levels, you are going to have critics. While you may have the majority of your team supporting you, there are no doubt other who may think your vision is problematic. But focusing on these naysayers can stress you out and lead you in the wrong direction, making it important to practice your responses to criticism. 

Below, we are going to discuss how to handle criticism with grace, so whether you’re in a professional environment or talking with another classmate about your group project, you won’t take it personally, and can use it as a chance to grow. 

Be Prepared For It

You really can’t avoid criticism, and this is largely because every single person has their own way of doing things and you can’t please everyone with what you choose to do or say. Basically, it is inevitable especially when we invite diverse perspectives to lay out a vision. Unfortunately, most people’s response to criticism is to feel “attacked” because criticism feels like disapproval that is out of our control. 

We may cry, lash out, and maybe even freeze as our brain struggles to process what is happening. The only time we think about the perfect response is after the fact. The key here is to think of your response before the situation happens so you can be prepared for it. You don’t have to always anticipate criticism, but clearly have a few professional and responsible responses you can use when the situation arises. 

Saying something like “this is a new perspective. I appreciate your willingness to share a different point of view. I’d like to give this genuine consideration and get back to you. 


Apply the Criticism to your Role, Not Yourself

We can become closely attached to the work we create and our roles, especially when it is under criticism. We tend to take things personally that are really not personal at all, they are a condition of the job we are in. Instead of conflating yourself and your role or your work, determine whether the criticism is about you or rather about the issues your role naturally evokes or about a project that really could be improved. 


Don’t Isolate Yourself

Don’t let pride isolate you from reaching out for second opinions or even just to consult with someone else about the criticism you received. Instead of withdrawing, reach out to those close to you. Cultivate a diverse group of people who are invested in your success and who will tell you the truth, perhaps in a more constructive way. Seek their advice and perspective. This will help you create a more holistic perspective of the criticism given, and will help you detach yourself from it. 

Talk with people in your organization and acknowledge their various opinions before creating a plan for moving forward. It will help you increase your resilience and learn to accept and value diverse opinions.


Take the Time to Process

If your colleagues’ comments were particularly painful and the criticism was large-scale, it could likely take a psychological toll. If this is the case, carve out time for yourself and identify rituals or practices that will help renew your energy. These practices may help us realize that we don’t need to be liked by everyone and that it is an illusion to believe that you and your work will be universally loved. 

As a college student, you are going to face all kinds of criticism and feedback, whether it is from students, roommates, or classmates. The best thing to do is to get comfortable with it because you will come into contact with criticism throughout your life. Well, do that and make sure you are getting the nutrients you need with healthy and delicious meals. The fraternity chefs at Upper Crust Food Services work across the United States at various colleges to provide exceptional meal plans to sorority and fraternity members. Give us a call to learn more.