5 Steps to Handle Criticism Gracefully - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


5 Steps to Handle Criticism Gracefully

Taking criticism is never easy. Here’s how to check yourself and avoid ruining your relationships.


The first time a close friend took me aside to share some serious criticism was in 11th grade. She saw me making a mistake and tried to help me fix it. At the time, I jumped to the defensive and ignored her comments. Only with the 20/20 vision of hindsight did I realize that she was right. Our closest friends know us better than anyone, meaning that they’re the best people to help us tackle our flaws.

Taking criticism is never easy. Hearing about our own flaws tends to bring up a defensive response that has ended many a friendship in the past. But getting criticism is also the only way we can work to improve. Next time a friend tries to give you constructive advice, do your best to get what you can out of it without getting hurt.

5 Steps to Handle Criticism Gracefully

  1. Differentiate Between Mean And Constructive Comments

Just because a friend tries to help you, doesn’t mean she’s right. If your friend is more insulting than constructive, it might be time to reevaluate your relationship. But if she takes you aside and addresses the issue with kindness and respect, recognize that she’s doing her best to help you. Hear her out.

  1. Avoid Defensiveness

If your friend shares constructive criticism with respect, avoid getting defensive. Responding to criticism with a defensive or belligerent attitude is a sure-fire way to start an argument. Your first reaction might be to defend yourself and deny her claims, but try not to vocalize these feelings right away. Instead, thank your friend for her concern and take some distance to think things through.

Do your best to get what you can out of their advice

5 Steps to Handle Criticism Gracefully

  1. Respect Their Opinion

Hearing criticism is hard, but so is approaching a friend with advice. Respect that your friend has your best intentions at heart and wants to help you. Instead of harboring resentful feelings, think about what you’d do if you reversed your roles. Letting a loved one make mistakes is easy–it’s much harder to intervene, but in the end it’s the right thing to do. Hard as it might be to hear, take the advice as a sign of love. It takes a lot of courage and affection to approach someone on a sensitive topic.

  1. Evaluate With Honesty

Before broaching the topic again, think about what your friend had to say and evaluate her opinion. Be honest with yourself—is she right? If you have questions or want to talk things out more, go to your friend for help. Likewise, if you’re feeling hurt or blindsided, now is the time to talk through those emotions.

  1. Set Goals

Once you’ve evaluated your friend’s advice, decide how you want to use it. Form some concrete goals based on the advice you’ve received to improve yourself. No one is perfect, and criticism is the only way we can see our own flaws and work on them. Use your friend’s honesty to make new goals for self-improvement.

Avoid getting defensive so you can understand their point of view

5 Steps to Handle Criticism Gracefully

Those close to us see us at our worst, making them the best people to turn to in times of trouble. They’re also the best people to help us better ourselves. Sensitive topics are difficult for everyone involved, but we walk away stronger, ready to strive for new goals.

Born in France but raised all over the place, Auriane has wanted to write ever since she was old enough to spell her name. In her spare time she loves reading, hanging out with her best friends (even when they're not in the same time zone), and spontaneous singing with her Broadway-bound roommate.

Reader Discussion: 128 Comments

  1. Jessi Agusta

    The worst thing about people who criticize you for being different is the fact that they’d ALWAYS expect you to believe everything they say and that everything is your fault, lest they confirm their negative opinions even more. Let’s say you’re in college but still watch Spongebob at your dorm. If someone criticizes you over that, it’s obvious that the criticizer has problems with you due to a totally different opinion, but said criticizer expects you to believe and acknowledge otherwise; that the criticism is 100% justified and watching Spongebob at college is just as unacceptable as vandalizing public property or something (apologies if I potentially exaggerated). According to that logic, criticizing another solely because of a different opinion will magically make the criticizer’s opinion a consensus. Of all my experiences being on the ugly receiving end of criticism to date, none of them ever came forth to me and admitted to being overly critical of something that isn’t that socially unacceptable, to begin with. Unless watching Spongebob at college can get you expelled, no one has the right to criticize a little thing like that.


    Big companies take criticism in the form of feedback to improve their services. We should follow the same thing without replying to them.

  3. Bela Christo

    Thanks, I’m trying to deal with criticism from my mom she keeps calling me a failure even though I’m only 11 and she has failed worse than me and I’m trying to learn 3 languages at the same time when she only studied one maybe two languages.

  4. Cristina Joseff

    Just kill them with kindness is the best way for me.:) 

  5. Thanks so much, I just got brave and published my first two books. I got mainly great reviews on Amazon but I just got a horrendous, hateful, mean-spirited review today. it was an anonymous review so I have no way to know who it was. I so appreciate this wisdom. I’m getting back in “THE ARENA” writing my next book. NO time to waste.

  6. Maria Bruce

    Feel the fear and do it anyway I try my best to live by this.

  7. Ana Brose

    The problem with this is that it doesn’t address the problem when the critics are people you DO care about or people that are important in your life. It’s easy to wave away criticisms from just acquaintances or strangers. Who gives a shit about their opinion anyway? But what happens when your whole family is hyper-critical of you? or your best friends? What if you grow up in a culture where criticism is always used, as it is in a lot of Asian cultures. It’s hard to deal with criticism when it’s your own sister or mother telling you depressing things, especially when you know they are true. It’s not that you aren’t self-aware or aren’t trying to fix your own problems, but when you live in an environment with so much negativity and you love those people, life becomes difficult to deal with.

  8. Julia Gray

    I was feeling a bit consumed by a bit a sharp comment I received this morning (I don’t think it was really meant in a mean way I just took it to heart and started ruminating on it!). This article has stopped my overthinking in its tracks!

  9. Jeni Morgan

    I was so upset at all the mean and hurtful/negative things people were saying about me and my business before and after I started it, but then I came across a quote that put my mind at ease. ”Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss an event, but only weak minds discuss people.

    • Johanna

      You are right I sometimes get criticized for putting my thoughts out there without any harm or hate but most of the people take it as it. But you are totally right Thanks.

  10. Marjorie Sharp

    Great post! Something I have not thought of before was not exposing myself to the criticism of people I don’t respect. I used to be very competitive in an unhealthy way but I’m changing that now.

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