It’s Not Personal! 6 Rules for Handling Criticism Like a Pro


No one enjoys being criticized. But a little constructive criticism never hurt anyone. In fact, it can often help you become a more successful and efficient administrative professional.

Receiving criticism is difficult, regardless of the source. But being criticized by your manager can be especially hard to swallow. Processing constructive criticism, however, is an important part of being a professional. By taking it in the right spirit, you can improve both your job performance and your confidence level.

Here are six tips for handling criticism like a pro:

1. Know it’s not just you

In the midst of being criticized, it can seem like you’re the only person in the world who ever messes up. That’s simply not true. Everyone makes mistakes at work. You, your boss and even perfect Donna in reception have slipped up from time to time. Keeping this in mind can make handling criticism a bit easier.

2. Acknowledge your shortcomings

Instead of getting defensive or making excuses, thank your manager for pointing out the areas in which you could improve. It takes a strong person to do this, and it shows you’re dedicated to becoming a better employee. Your ability to take constructive criticism in stride won’t go unnoticed; you may even impress your boss with your professionalism.

3. Keep things in perspective

We’ve come to associate the word “criticism” with negativity. It may help to put a positive spin on being criticized. By thinking of it as a critique or an evaluation, you may find that you're less fearful of the feedback you might receive in performance reviews.

4. Listen objectively

Avoid getting sidetracked by thinking you’re inadequate. That’s not what your reviewer is saying. Instead of thinking of criticism as a personal attack, really listen to what your supervisor is telling you. If it helps, take notes throughout your meeting. Your manager is giving you key tips to help you do your job even better.

5. Create a performance improvement plan

After you’ve heard what your manager has to say, ask for help in working on a performance improvement plan. Show an interest in advice on how to improve your skills and suggestions about professional development, such as earning a Microsoft Office certification. Then map out a plan so you can stay on track in meeting your goals.

6. Wait until you’ve calmed down

If you’re rattled by the situation, ask your manager if you can take some time to think about what’s been said. You can return later with questions. Letting your emotions get the best of you when being criticized can lead to you becoming defensive or upset. That kind of reaction isn’t going to help anyone.

Performance reviews will always be part of your job. The secret to handling criticism and making it beneficial to your administrative career is to remember it exists to help you maximize your potential, not to make you feel bad, inferior or angry. When you view criticism as useful feedback offered in the spirit of promoting professional growth and excellence, that’s exactly what it will help you do.

What tips do you have for handling criticism and creating a performance improvement plan? Let us know in the comments.