The Baker’s Dozen: Dealing with Unwarranted Criticism

Unjustifiable criticism may seem unfair, but by adjusting the way you respond, you can turn it into a more constructive experience. Try one or more of these suggestions for dealing with undeserved, negative feedback in the workplace and other settings.

Dealing With Unwarranted Criticism In General

1. Seek out the truth. Even the most far-fetched accusations may contain a grain of truth, and finding that truth can help to turn the experience around.

* For example, you might not always neglect to close the garage door. However, if you’ve left it open more than once, you’ll be the most likely suspect if your spouse finds it open in the morning.

2. Identify the underlying issues. Conflicts sometimes flare up over minor issues when more serious resentments have been buried. It’s important to get to the foundational issue before trying to resolve the “surface” conflict.

* Your sister may still be smarting from childhood rivalries when she nags you about your housekeeping. So, your house, messy or not, isn’t the real issue here. Try to work out the real challenges together and let the past go.

3. Collaborate on activities. If you’re frequently butting heads with someone, try consulting them more extensively. People are more likely to embrace projects that they had a hand in planning from the beginning versus being asked to come in at a later point to help justify them.

4. Provide reassurance. Stress can make people much more prone to becoming hypercritical. Try to empathize with whatever struggles they may be experiencing and offer sincere praise for their individual strengths. They may soon feel more confidence in you, and embrace the reassurance you are offering.

5. Remain calm. Whatever is at the root of your conflicts, you’ll make more headway by staying calm and discussing the issues clearly and as objectively as possible.

* Keeping your emotions in check is good for your wellbeing and ability to present the facts logically.

6. Adopt a compassionate view. Even when you dislike how someone treats you, you can view them with compassion. Considering their position – what they are thinking, feeling and experiencing – makes it easier to get along with them.

7. Move on. If you know that a person or an event is unlikely to have much impact on your future, you can choose to just let it be. For example, if another commuter honks at you when you have the right-of-way, say nothing and let it go. Practice letting go of small annoyances and keep your feelings and your mindset on a more even keel.


Dealing With Unwarranted Criticism in the Workplace

1. Document your work. It’s always good to record your accomplishments. It’s especially important if you believe that you might need evidence to show your supervisor or manager. You can also use the record to renew your self-confidence and remind yourself of your successes.

2. Put assignments into writing. Be proactive to improve communications. Send your supervisor an email with your understanding of an assignment written out to avoid discrepancies later, and consider sending a summary of accomplishments at the end of larger assignments.

3. Focus on outcomes. Look to the future and come up with solutions for whatever can be improved.

* You can do things to help, like straighten out the supply closet, regardless of whether that task was originally in your job description.

4. Build alliances. Your colleagues can provide valuable advice on how to deal with people you find challenging, and additional input can be very helpful.

* Avoid complaining, but welcome practical suggestions on how to win more approval.

5. Promote yourself outside the workplace. Work at extending your network of personal and professional contacts outside your office. You’ll get broader feedback for assessing your abilities and performance. Your colleagues may give you a second look if they see that others value your contributions, and additional positive reinforcement does not hurt.

6. Discreetly look for another position. Face the facts – if you’re getting negative reviews and you believe the situation is unlikely to change, set a plan in motion to give you options and an alternative if needed. Tap into your heart’s desire and prepare to pursue a different path if it’s feasible.

* There may be another position in your organization that would suit you better or it may be time to start job hunting.

* Remaining conscientious about your duties and cooperative in the transition may impress your supervisor and enable you to part on good terms.

Sometimes the best way of dealing with unwarranted criticism is to disregard it. Of course, it can be dangerous to ignore your boss, so you want to have additional techniques on hand that will protect your peace of mind and relationships when confronted with negative, inaccurate feedback.