How to deal with criticism at work?

Perfectionists and over-thinkers, pay close attention..

Shot by Luca Bravo

Imagine you’re working on a project. You’re enthusiastic about it and deliver on client feedback and suddenly, out of nowhere, your client goes like — “We are not happy with this work. We can’t move forward gambling that it would be ready in time. We’ll just have to take it from here and rewrite this ourselves”. And you’re left wondering, what just happened here?!

Let me paint another picture. You are leading a project or a task at work, and you’re suddenly (with limited explanation) removed from it and assigned a different role. If you’re as enthusiastic about your work as I am, honestly it feels like shit. But there is little you can do.

The truth is it’s just their opinion of your work, and not their opinion of you as a person. You are independent of your work. However, more often than not, we end up considering the quibbling as a personal attack on our capabilities and that’s where the problem begins. We’re only human after all. So the next time, self-doubt and the ‘where did I go wrong’ mind talk kicks in, simply step back and try to do one of these:

  1. Look at the situation from a distance. Detach yourself from your feelings and consider yourself in the shoes of the person addressing you. Observing the problem from a bird’s-eye view helps understand the situation from a different perspective; thereby opening up yourself to accommodate criticism more positively.
  2. Distract yourself with another task, and let it go. Seriously, let it go! Dwelling so much in the past is not worth it.
  3. Move on with a plan! A person usually tends to go into a fight, flight or freeze mode when harsh criticism comes through. Move forward with realistic expectations and remind yourself of the obvious. Naturally, stress will kick in when you overthink. So actively look for solutions to overcome it.
  4. Reevaluate to understand what the job requires. Prepare all solutions — essential, critical, desirable.


The way someone else perceives what you do is a combination of their own experiences (which you can’t control), their preferences (which you can’t influence), and their expectations (which you don’t set). If your choices don’t match their expectations that is their concern, not yours.”, as aptly described by James Clear.




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Mehak Saluja

Mehak Saluja

a caffeinated work in progress who loves to learn

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