Coping with Feedback and Criticism, Why Is It So Hard?

Although we know in theory that feedback and constructive criticism are essential for development professionally and personally, why do we find it so hard to receive? And is that ok?

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How do you cope with criticism?

We know as professionals that being able to deal with criticism and feedback is essential, we know as people that times of growth can come from being challenged and out of our comfort zones; we tell children that getting things wrong helps them to learn. So why is feedback and criticism so hard to hear?

Are we so fragile that we will break? In that moment of feeling ill-perceived, it can feel that we may be crushed; our intentions misunderstood and unrecognised.

I take time for my own wellbeing practice, and have a fairly honest inner dialogue with myself. I would describe myself as emotionally robust. This morning, on a business call, I didn’t feel I represented the work I do to the best of my abilities. On putting down the phone, I could see that the person next to me also felt the call could have gone better. I asked what they thought, and then was hugely defensive when they told me!

After my defensive responses to my “messenger of feedback”, I began to be aware of the physical sensations in my body, and to notice the feelings and stories playing for me in that moment – I have worked so hard, I am doing my best why can nobody recognise it, etc. 

Thank goodness for time passing, thank goodness for mindfulness, and the human ability to cope with stress factors – we are designed to be so. Perhaps we must accept first that we are human beings.

Just the act of noticing brought me a notch down, and I was able to apologise and also say thank you. For that difficult moment helped me to examine what I already knew needed work, and begin to work towards something that will help me on the next business call. Everyone’s practice is different. For me I focus on my breath, and try to observe and notice without judgement what I am experiencing and how it is affecting my behaviour/what I say.

If we can use our challenging moments as key information and greet them with kindness. Then, even though we cannot (and should not) stop the challenging moment from arising, we can use it for an opportunity to learn, as we thought in the first place!







Jessica Shaw

Director PACT Creative training, PACT Creative Training

Jess is the founder of PACT Creative Training (Play, Act, Create, Transform). She has 20 years' experience facilitating workshops using fun and playfulness in order to boost wellbeing and lower stress. Jess runs creative team building events for companies, Staff INSET Training in Schools and wellbeing-through-play workshops for children & young people in schools.