How to Take—And Give—Criticism Well - Deepstash
How to Take—And Give—Criticism Well

How to Take—And Give—Criticism Well

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1. It’s not personal (even when it’s personal).

1. It’s not personal (even when it’s personal).

Research shows that viewing criticism as a judgment on one’s abilities can lead to lower self-worth, lower positive mood.

Use a helpful metacognitive approach—one that moves the focus from emotion to analysis.

Set up an internal affirmation such as: “I don’t care what this feedback says about the person giving it, and I choose not to see it as a personal attack on me. I will assess it on its face about the matter at hand—nothing more, nothing less.”


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2. Treat criticism like insider information.

2. Treat criticism like insider information.

Once you depersonalize criticism in this way, you can start to see it for what it is: a rare glimpse into what outsiders think about your performance, and thus a potential opportunity to correct course and improve. 

If this doesn’t come easily to you, one way to develop the grit to do so is to ask friends or colleagues whom you like and trust to form a critics’ circle, reviewing one another’s work and giving honest suggestions.

This is one way to lose much of your fear of critics.


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3. Make criticism a gift, never a weapon.

3. Make criticism a gift, never a weapon.

If I am criticizing to help, I am doing it right; if I am doing it to harm, I am doing it wrong. 

To keep critical feedback in the first category, the research tells us that it should have five elements:

the care of the recipient in mind;

respectful delivery;

good intentions;

a pathway to improvement;

and appropriate targeting of the recipient’s needs. 


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4. Praise in public, criticize in private.

4. Praise in public, criticize in private.

Scholars writing in 2014 showed that positive feedback given to students in public was 9 percent more motivating than when given privately, while negative feedback in private was 11 percent more motivating than in public. 


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Accept criticism better!

Accept criticism better!

Consider Isaac Newton. In 1672, at age 29, he published a paper on light and colors of which he was probably quite proud. Most critics received it favorably, save for one: Robert Hooke, a well-regarded scientist and inventor, who wrote a condescending critique of Newton’s paper. As legend has it, Newton was so angry at Hooke that he slashed every portrait of Hooke he could find, which is why, per the tale, none exists today.


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I'm a Deepstasher passionate about history, art and community projects.


Four rules backed by research for giving and accepting critical feedback.

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