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A Guide to Handling Criticism

“A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful” – Proverbs 28:13 

“Everyone’s a critic.” There’s no doubt that we have heard these words being uttered at some point. When the word ‘critic’ springs to mind, we immediately assume people have a problem with someone or something and just want to complain. Believe it or not, this isn’t (always) the case. 

The overall concept of criticism is to provide feedback. It doesn’t matter where you are – a place of education, work, or even at home – you’re going to hear criticism of some sort from another person. You may feel taken back by the criticism you’ve received, especially if it’s sudden or you’ve been concentrating on a particular task or activity for so long that you are fully dedicated to. The important thing is how you respond to it, and some people don’t take it well. 

If you have difficulty handling any criticism that you’ve been given, then this article is for you. This guide, consisting of five tips, will provide you with advice to help you improve your habits and your mindset when faced with adversity. 

Control Your Reaction 

Your reaction to the criticism you may receive is absolutely vital. Even when you are not in a professional or work environment, you need to display maturity and professionalism. The worst thing you could do is respond poorly to what you’ve just been told, as this will unquestionably make you look bad and affect your reputation

After you’re informed of the criticism, take a deep breath and pause. Nine times out of ten, the criticism that’s carried out is constructive, not destructive. The person who issued it wants you to improve and they certainly do not view you as a terrible individual. They know that you can achieve greater things and had no intention of upsetting you. If the criticism genuinely was unanticipated, you may need some time to think about it (see the next point for more on this). 

It must also be noted that, even if you don’t verbally respond to what you’ve been told, your body language and facial expressions may unconsciously exhibit your reaction. By taking that deep breath and pausing, it can prevent those from happening, but there is a conscious response you can do to show that you are in control: smile. Even if it’s a false one, it shows that you’re motivated and can diffuse any tension that may have arisen between yourself and the critic. 


You may take some time to process what you’ve been told, so the best thing to do is to utilise deconstruction. This is a method of analysis that’s going to be very useful for you, especially when you have been provided with feedback. As the word implies, instead of constructing (I.e., creating) something, you are taking it apart to look at the finer details more closely. To help deconstruct what you’ve been told, you should be open-minded and ask specific questions relating to the criticism to improve yourself by understanding where you went wrong. 

As you do this, listen closely to your peer’s intentions – they may appear confrontational, but it could be them dealing with their own personal issues. Thus, this means they obviously don’t have anything against you personally. The key here is to evaluate it in a positive manner. You should also determine whether the criticism is constructive or destructive; if their tone implies the latter, you should tell them how their words are making you feel. If the person is of a higher authority, they may be trying to demean you. However, you mustn’t make any excuses or be defensive regardless of the way they’ve communicated with you. Keep it calm and be civilised. 

Don’t Take It Personally 

It can be very easy to take things personally. This stems from how some people see the work they do, professionally or not, as a part of who they are. The criticism is being directed at the work you’re doing, not yourself, so it’s important to separate yourself from your work. The errors that you might’ve created don’t reflect who you are as a human being. The critic sees you as their equal and only wants to help you improve, and you should use this opportunity to do so. 

Apologise and Be Gracious 

This may sound like an oddity, but depending on how badly things have occurred, an apology is important if a situation has gone awry. Apologising may be a difficult thing to do but it is key to showing empathy and that you can accept responsibility for your actions and are not avoiding doing so. 

Another thing you should also do when receiving criticism is showing that you appreciate your peer’s words. By being grateful to hear what they have to say, it will help you calm yourself in contrast to your prior reactions to previous criticisms so you can adapt to this new behaviour. Remember, it’s not just you who might be the uncomfortable one in this situation, as your peer might feel the same way having to issue it. You should be thankful for their honesty if they’re wishing to be constructive, while also making it clear that you’re going to use this opportunity to improve yourself not just in this instance, but for the future. 

Share It 

Talking is a very good way to relieve yourself of any worries or stresses you might have. You might be wondering if the criticism you’ve received is fully deserved or not, and if you’re normally rather sensitive, the best thing to do is to relay the words to another person for a second opinion. They could be another colleague, an advisor, or some form of mentor you have. Whether they agree with the criticism or not, it will provide you with closure and a sound mind, allowing you to determine where to go next. 

In Short 

It’s essential that you are careful with your reaction when you receive criticism, as a less than calm and civilised response shows a lack of professionalism that could affect your credibility. You need to listen closely to what you’ve been told and observe where you went wrong. You mustn’t take it on a personal level, as the work you do does not reflect who you are as a person. 

When responding to any critical feedback, you should apologise if it’s caused harm and be thankful that the person speaking to you was honest. Make it clear you’re going to use it to help you improve yourself for the future. If need be, share any criticism with someone you know to see if they agree with it, then decide where to go from there. 

Criticism exists. There’s no way to escape it. The only thing you can do is accept that it’ll always be there as a way to teach you on how to be better than before. We all want to improve. 

This article was thoroughly researched with the intent of helping those who wish to handle criticism better. These were only five tips, so if you wish to have more advice relating to this topic, contact us at Ceed today. 

How to Practice Active Listening

How to Stay Engaged and Attentive During Conversation with Active Listening Techniques  

Active listening is an important skill to have when building relationships!

What is Active Listening? 

Being good at listening is vital to everyday life. People spend 70-80% of their day engaged in some form of communication, and 55% of that time is devoted to listening. Active listening is the practice of making a conscious effort to remain present in a conversation, to not only hear the words the other person is saying, but to process them fully, and understand them. Active listening involves applying certain techniques in order to stay focused and demonstrate your attention to the other person. 

Active listening not only benefits the speaker, who feels valued and respected by your genuine interest and attention, but it also benefits you, the listener, who will be more equipped to build relationships and answer their queries. Furthermore, active listening is a vital skill in the workplace, where it will help to decrease errors, problem solve, resolve conflicts and boost the likelihood of good workplace relationships.  

Used in every conversation, active listening will help you strengthen your relationships in all facets of your life and help you become a more considerate, approachable person. 

Benefits of Active Listening 


Actively listening to your superiors and colleagues at work will likely result in you becoming a better employee. When they set tasks and allocate work, utilising this method of listening will allow you to more accurately fulfil their brief and complete your work to a better standard.  

For instance, actively listening to feedback given about your work will enable you to quickly and responsively adapt your working practices to correct mistakes or improve productivity. Actively listening to colleagues will help build better working relationships, making everything in the office run that bit more smoothly. 

Furthermore, active listening will benefit you in job interviews, too. It will best prepare you to answer any questions posed in an intelligent, thoughtful way. Active listening is a skill your interviewer will be looking for, as it shows that you are an engaged, receptive employee. 

What are the day-to-day benefits of active listening?

Friendships and Romantic Relationships 

When meeting new people, active listening can be a valuable technique to employ. Showing the other person that you are engaged with their speaking can prompt them to speak more, or open up further, and foster a deeper connection. Due to this outcome, active listening can be a huge help in strengthening your relationships. It validates the speaker; your genuine engagement with them proves that they, and their words, have worth, and that you personally value them. This approach will go a long way to help in times of difficulty in a relationship. Problems will be easier to solve if you better understand the other person’s thoughts and feelings, and better understanding comes with better listening.  

Not only can active listening help generate better solutions to relationship problems, but it can itself be a solution; sometimes what the other person needs is to talk through their issues with a person they feel is genuinely listening and cares for them. 

Key Active Listening Techniques 

  • Look at the speaker directly. Not only will this demonstrate to the speaker that you are listening, but it will aid in focusing your attention on the speaker. This decreases the threat of visual distractions elsewhere. 
  • Don’t interrupt. This may seem obvious, but is often tempting if you feel like you have a valuable or necessary response. Particularly in the case of a disagreement, you may feel the need to interrupt to defend yourself, but waiting to respond until after the other person has finished a thought can go a long way in de-escalating conflict, and encourages them to be more receptive to your responses. 
  • Paraphrase and ask questions. Re-stating what the other person has just said demonstrates to them that you were listening, and hearing their own thoughts back can prompt them to clarify or correct anything they miscommunicated, avoiding future miscommunication issues. Asking open ended questions also verifies to them that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say, and in answering them they can help clarify points for you. 
  • Use non-verbal behaviour. Observing the speaker’s non-verbal behaviour (e.g. tone of voice, body language, facial expressions) can give further insight into their true feelings, and prompt you on how to respond appropriately. Practicing good non-verbal behaviour like nodding to show agreement or not crossing your arms to show openness also go a long way in demonstrating active listening. Something as simple as smiling at something funny is proof and validation to the speaker that you are actively listening. 
Understanding the ways to communicate active listening to others is vital.

Things to Avoid 

Some bad listening practices, and things to avoid when trying to actively listen, are: 

  • Rushing the speaker to the conclusion of a thought. Rushing the speaker will not only invalidate them, and cause them to believe you aren’t interested in their side of the conversation, but may also cause them to become frustrated, and close down or become distant as a result. 
  • ’Story topping’, in which you try to one-up or outdo the speaker by insinuating your related experiences are more important or more extreme, or flipping the conversational focus to yourself when this is inappropriate. For example, saying things like ‘that reminds me of the time when I…’ before acknowledging the speaker’s experiences or ‘that’s not as bad as when I…’, which disregards or diminishes the speaker’s own problems. 
  • Asking the questions about unimportant, minor details, rather than focusing on the big picture of what the speaker is trying to convey. It devalues what the speaker is saying and detracts from the point/s they are making. 
  • Fidgeting. Fidgeting in any capacity may cause the speaker to believe you aren’t giving them your full attention, and it may even actively distract you from listening as well as you could. 

Encouraging Active Listening 

What about when you’re the one speaking? Everyone wants to feel like they’re being heard, so how can you promote the active listening in your conversational partner? 

Being an active listener yourself, and leading by example, is the best method of encouragement. Showing the other person your genuine interest, and making them feel they are being genuinely heard will encourage them to do the same for you. Active listening fosters a better relationship between conversational partners, and believing yourself to be in a good relationship will foster a genuine interest in the other person and their thoughts.  

In cases when the other person isn’t actively listening to you, despite your own efforts, it can help to introduce topics of shared interest. The other person will more likely actively listen to you if they are engaged in the topic of conversation.  

Actively listening to others encourages them to do the same for you!


Active listening is vital to healthy, useful and interesting conversations. Employing active listening in your everyday conversations; be it at home, at work, or out and about, can encourage a deepening of your relationships, and a better understanding of those you come into contact with.  

As highlighted in this article, some active listening techniques include good eye contact, open body language, patience, paraphrasing, and the asking of questions. Bad active listening practices include fidgeting, ‘story topping’ and rushing the speaker to a conclusion. Practicing active listening encourages your conversational partners to do the same, further enriching your relationships and interactions. Actively listening during disagreements can help in finding solutions, and in itself can be part of a solution, as it demonstrates empathy and understanding. It better equips you to answer questions and complete set tasks. 

For further advice from our professional lifestyle coaches, contact us at Ceed! 

How To Become a Good Problem Solver

Problem-solving is a fundamental part of society. Without it, nothing would get done. As easy as it may be to just throw in the towel and do something else when a difficult situation arises, that is not something employers wish to see in employees or possible ones. Being a good problem solver is a major advantage, and not just in the line of work. Have you ever encountered a problem at home, or even at a relative or friend’s house? Knowing how to navigate those complex interactions is a skill that we all must master. 

If you find yourself struggling to solve problems and want to better yourself, here are 5 tips to help you improve yourself: 

1. Identify the problem. 

This may sound simple, but it can be a complex issue to identify what it is that is causing a problem. By knowing what the problem is, you’ll know what it is you’re trying to solve. For example, let’s say you have a door that’s broken; that itself is the problem. What you’re trying to solve is how this could have potentially been avoided. 

The key thing you’ll need to do is review the situation and closely inspect all the variables involved. Once you have done this, you’ll then need to ask why the situation happened. However, don’t do this just once; ask it five times. Going back to the example of the door, you’d probably be asking: 

  • Why didn’t I oil it? 
  • Why didn’t I fix the lock? 
  • Why didn’t I replace the handle/door knob when I knew it felt loose? 
  • Why didn’t I replace the window on it? 
  • Why didn’t I buy a door that was of a better condition? 

By finding the cause of the problem, it will make it easier to determine what went wrong and how a repeated incident can be avoided. 

2. Find obstacles. 

Now, you’re probably thinking “but I already am experiencing an obstacle”. As true as that may be, the answer to the problem you are trying to fix could have consequences in return. This can go 2 possible ways: the solution is the only one and will lead to another problem that requires solving afterwards, or there are multiple solutions, which will either have little to no repercussions or repercussions that will be considerable in size. 

3. Solutions. 

That’s what you’re after, after all. Referring back to the two consequences in the previous point, the latter is the one where you need to think clearly, analysing your options, and make a decision if there are going to be ramifications. 

It’s important that you do indeed have more than one solution so, if one doesn’t work, you’ll have another to try. Always have an alternative. Another important thing that you must do is to take notes regarding the successes of your solutions; how successful were they? Were they not successful at all? Why was this? What could you do next time if you wish to try that method again? 

Remember – focus on the solution, not the problem. Research has shown that you’ll have difficulty coming up with a solution if you focus too much on the problem itself. The problem will be a distraction. 

4. Be creative.

Think outside of the box. Don’t limit yourself to what you already have at your disposal. Go that little bit extra. Don’t have that particular tool or item that can help resolve the problem in your possession? Buy it or, even better, find an alternate cheaper (or free) solution. Be resourceful with what you already have; repurpose that particular item for something else or give it a dual role. Creativity, let alone thinking outside of the box, will give you a new approach to solving problems entirely that will come in handy now and in the future. 

5. Keep it simple. 

It can be very easy to come up with complex answers to a problem, clearly because you’re looking very closely into the situation itself. You may be deconstructing it to the smallest detail or even reverse engineering the problem itself to see how it came about. While there is nothing wrong with using reverse engineering to fix your problems, it’s important to focus on keeping the solution simple. 

By keeping things simple, it means your solution will be easier to follow through and to understand. You must take on board that the definition of ‘simple’ varies from person to person, so what might be straightforward for you might not be for another person. Instead of saying “you’ll need to do this and this, but then follow it up with this, that, and the other”, you should rather have an approach that’s more like “all you have to do is this.” Notice how subtle the difference is? If anything, an overly complex solution might mean it’ll take longer to apply it to the problem in the first place! 

In Conclusion 

Problem solving is certainly something we can’t live without. These five tips are just some of the ways you can improve your own problem-solving skills and abilities. If these weren’t enough, or you just want to know more, contact Ceed today

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