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Accepting criticism


Techniques > Conversation techniques > Sustaining the conversation > Accepting criticism

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



When others criticize you in some way, show that you are taking them seriously.

Do not react badly to the criticism. Use this interaction to show that you are interested in them and their opinions. Show you can take it on the chin.

Listen intently. Ask for elaboration. Ask them for more criticism. Ask them to help you improve. Show you value their inputs.

Only respond more robustly if you are sure that the other person is attacking you (which often is not the case). In this case respond assertively, not aggressively.


Hmm. I guess that wasn't too clear, was it. Thanks for pointing it out.

You're right Mike. I do tend to slur my words when I'm excited. I'll try be more careful. Could I ask you to let me know if I do it again?


When we are criticized by others, it often feels like an attack on our selves, threatening our sense of identity and challenging our control. This can trigger a fight-or-flight reaction, where we either attack back or retreat in some way.

When you accept criticism and particularly when you ask them to help you improve, you are putting them into the position of a parent or close friend who you trust with your vulnerabilities. This encourages them to reciprocate and thus increase bonding.

If they are criticising aggressively their main goal may be just to rile you. But when you are not wound up by what they say and ask for more information, they will be unsure, thus giving you an advantage you would not get if you fought back normally.

Asking for elaboration will thus help distinguish those whose criticism is genuine (they will happily give you more information) and those who are using it as an attack (they will retreat or get angry). When you know their intent, you can then respond appropriately.

If you can accept and act on the constructive criticism of others you will very likely improve in all sorts of ways.

See also

Bonding principle, Assertiveness

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