However good you are at your job, chances are at some point or another you'll make mistakes. Making mistakes is part of human nature - after all, nobody's perfect. And when you do slip up, you may have to deal with criticism from your employer, clients, co-workers or even your friends and family.
Everyone has to face criticism at some point or another. The important thing is how you react to it and whether or not you can use it to learn and improve yourself, both at work and in your personal life.
If you react negatively, it could put you under additional stress. So instead of taking things personally and going on the defensive, here are a few suggestions to help you deal with criticism more positively:
If you tend to lose your cool when faced with criticism, it can affect your ability to listen and understand what's being said. So do whatever you can to stay as calm as possible. Take a few deep breaths to try to slow down your breathing, and don't rush to respond - take a long pause before you say anything.
When taking lots of deep breaths doesn't help, try stepping away for a while until you can approach the other person without getting angry or defensive. Ask if you can schedule the conversation for a later time, then take whatever steps you need to prepare yourself to approach the situation more calmly.
You may feel like shutting down and not taking any notice of what the other person is saying, but when you're facing criticism it's important to really listen to what they're saying. Try to remain objective and open to their comments, and avoid interrupting them. By listening more carefully, you're less likely to misinterpret what's being said and jump to conclusions that may make the situation worse.
Answering criticism with a criticism is never a good idea, even though you may feel offended and tempted to air your grievances too. This can often escalate what may start out as a simple criticism into a tit-for-tat full-blown argument.
If you think the other person is being deliberately destructive and is goading you into a fight, try to stay as calm as possible and politely thank them for their feedback before walking away. They will expect you to react angrily or defensively, so expressing your thanks will stop them in their tracks and diffuse the situation instead of making things more intense.
After the other person has had their say and you've responded calmly, it's time to address any issues that were raised. This could mean acknowledging a misunderstanding or that you made a mistake, or accepting the other person's feedback and resolving to change your actions in whatever way is appropriate.
If, on the other hand, you don't believe the criticism is deserved, end the conversation politely and take a step back to think. Speak to other people who may be able to offer their insights - whether co-workers, friends or family members - and find out what they think rather than rushing headlong into another conflict.
If you blow your top whenever you're faced with criticism, find out how to tame your temper by reading our Guide to coping with anger