4 Ways Leaders Can Handle Criticism

If you’re leading then you will encounter critics. During the times you’re criticized you can either chose to move past what has happened or allow it to prevent you from moving forward. I have witnessed people who have allowed criticism to prevent them from achieving and moving forward. The truly successful people have learned to handle criticism and allow it to raise them to new heights. Below are 4 ways to handle criticism:

1. Know and expect it to happen- The first step in handling criticism successfully is to know it will happen. This is especially true for those who are reaching toward their potential and dreams. This is because many people resist moving past average and try to stop others from doing the same thing. Knowing you will be criticized can prepare you for when it does happen.

2. Embrace it- It requires wisdom to embrace the truths of the criticism while discarding the false or negative. Most of the time there is truth behind the criticism. It is important to choose to learn and grow from what the person is saying. New York Times Bestselling author Hendrie Weisinger said, “Criticism is information that will help you grow.” This happens when we separate the positive from the negative and retain the information that will help us become better.

3. Don’t react to the critic- The challenging part about being criticized is to not react negatively toward the critic (Click here to tweet that). It’s human nature to protect self and attack back when we are being criticized or attacked. When a person reacts negatively toward a critic it only causes more problems. Remember, “He who throws dirt always loses ground”~Unknown. When being criticized I suggest you take a breath then chose your words carefully.

4. Move forward- After embracing and learning from the criticism then chose to move forward. Don’t allow what has been said or done to hold you back from a better tomorrow. A support team of trusted family members and friends can help you better handle criticism. This is because they can encourage, support, and life you up after you have been criticized.

Question: How do you handle being criticized?

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31 thoughts on “4 Ways Leaders Can Handle Criticism

  1. These are awesome points Dan, each step is critical and extremely practical.
    Embracing each of these has helped me grow and also grow in humility as well.
    Thank you for this clarity on a very important aspect of leadership.

  2. Those are some great reminders Dan. I used to not want to receive criticism because I didn’t know how to deal with it. But in the past year or so I have learned that if I don’t receive criticism then that means no one is paying attention to what I’m doing! So learning to expect and embrace
    criticism has been a powerful thing in my life and motivated me to continue to produce.

    • Jon,

      I’m glad to hear you have learned how to embrace and handle criticism. Criticism is a great indicator we are doing something and can be a great “motivator” to keep doing it. Thank you for bringing that up. Glad to hear your thoughts on this topic.

  3. Awesome thoughts Dan.

    I don’t like criticism – that’s the honest truth. I’d rather be celebrated and receive positive feedback all the time. But that’s not possible or healthy :)

    My biggest challenge is reacting. Keeping a level head and seeking for any truth behind the criticism. Now that takes God..lol.But am getting there and getting better. I’ve learnt that keeping my mouth shut always helps – i’d rather regret something I did not say than something I said!

    Thank you for this reminder

    • Ngina,

      I don’t think most people like being criticized. I know I don’t. However it’s an opportunity to become better, at least it’s what I try to think about when being criticized.

      Keeping a “level head” and not reacting can be a challenge. During those times It’s all about relying and walking in God’s grace. I like your statement about “Keeping our mouth shut” it’s sometimes the best thing we can do, right?:)

      Thank you for sharing.

  4. “He who throws dirt always loses ground.” I like that, don’t think I’ve ever heard it, but how true it is. I’ve found if a person is diligently trying to change their life and is succeeding, people will lash out in an envious ways. If you do things with purity, it only gets worse.

    When I was younger being criticized would bring out the fury in me… that fury inside that does no good for the one harboring it. Now, as you suggested, I stop and consider the things said, if they have some merit I try to admit it and use it as a tool for change. If it has no merit I try to laugh it off, make a note of who said it and use that wisdom to avoid trouble in the future.

    We all need to be careful not to criticize others. Even when someone is doing something unethical, they don’t need our judgement, they need our prayers. It’s amazing what that change in perspective can do for the soul.

    • Floyd,

      I also use to react to being criticized by lashing out and fighting back. Luckily I have learned it’s not the way to handle being criticized. Great point about, it’s not our job to “judge” others but to “pray” for them. Such an important point to know and remember. Thank you for reading and sharing.

      • Not always as gracefully as I should. But I do try to be Christ like, to learn what I can and discard what isn’t helpful.
        I also allow myself a small amount of time to wallow, then move past it. “Okay, it hurt…now what?”

        • Great point about taking time to “wallow.” I think knowing and reacting to our feelings/emotions for a while is important. However, we need to be careful it does not hold us back from moving forward. Thank you for sharing.

    • I think you will become an expert in how to handle critics and being criticized since your moving toward your dreams and getting more recognition. Great points about “developing thicker skin and praying.”

  5. Well, Dan. I must admit the last two times I received criticism I didn’t react very well. Prior to that I received criticism very well and learned from it as much as I could. No excuse, but I must add those last two times I had other things going on and I really wasn’t in the right frame of mind when criticism came my way. I believe my biggest failure was not preparing myself mentally to receive the criticism. Usually, I am so busy trying to get things done right to avoid criticism, that when I received the unexpected criticism, I just wasn’t ready for it. I am going to make a more conscious effort of being prepared mentally especially since performance evaluations are just around the corner. Great, timely post.

    • Juan Cruz, first off thank you for openly sharing about your experience. I totally relate with you about reacting wrongly when not being in the right mindset, it just shows we are not perfect and need God’s grace. Great idea about preparing yourself for criticism, I’ll be praying for you about this. Glad the post helped.

      ps. I hope your having a great vacation:)

  6. Gee Wiz, talk about criticize. Yes, I am critizied by people on my own team. Not everyone agrees with how I do things and some talk behind my back and some talk in front of my face. LOL… Needless to say that I don’t react too well to it. I always like to be right but its inevitable that I won’t be. When you say don’t react to the critic, I do and I need to stop and look at a post like this before I fire off that email, or leave that message. It appears that whenever you are going through something its written about, and Dan you hit it on the head bro.

    • At least you have a lot of opportunity to become better at reacting and handling criticism. I have learned taking time to calm self and think about the situation is some times the best. Glad this post helped. I’ll be praying keep you in my prayers about this. Thank you for openly sharing.

  7. Dealing with criticism is tough. It frequently feels like a shot through the heart.

    But I find myself dealing with it by looking for the positive. Searching for what I can learn. How I can apply it to my life. And improve.

  8. Dan, these were some great points on handling criticism. I have learned to deal with criticism in two ways. If it is constructive criticism I use to help me improve. If it is destructive criticism I do not give it any room in my life.

  9. I think the key is to separate the kernels of wisdom from the horrible junk that goes with criticism. Lift it up to God and ask him to show you what’s good and valid in the criticism. Then ask for the strength and courage to ignore the rest.

    • Loren,

      Great points. It’s so important to give it to God and allow Him to work in and through us. Thank you for sharing.

      ps. I hope you had a great vacation.

  10. While most of us dislike criticism (I know I do), great leaders tap into the opportunities that criticism provides. They use criticism as an opportunity to authentically engage people, to create awareness for change, and to facilitate healthy and open dialogue. In other words, they use it as fuel to move themselves and others forward. Excellent pointers here, Dan!

    • Great insights and thoughts Kent. The key is to use it to benefit us and move us forward.

      Thank you for reading and sharing. I know your busy during the summers. I appreciate it.

  11. Great points about dealing with criticism. I have learned through criticism, but also know when to shake it off. Years ago, I did some co-writing with another songwriter. He was older and wiser, (but don’t tell him I said that), and criticized some of my lyrics. We often knocked heads in the early sessions. After time, I learned that he had good advice to share and I became a better writer through his criticism.