Five Powerful Ways to Respond to Criticism

by Dandy

I’d like you all to give a warm welcome to my guest blogger, M. Farouk Radwan.  He is the creator and author of the incrediable website  I encourage you all to take a look at his large selection of articles that offer smart, confident, and thought provoking articles.  I love this article he wrote on criticism and I’m thrilled to have it on The Reflective Self. 

Five powerful ways to respond to criticism

Criticism whether its constructive or destructive can changes our moods and make us feel down for few days. Since many people criticize others harshly these days learning how to deal and respond with criticism has became an essential life skill that everyone is in need of.

In this post I will tell you about five powerful ways that can help you handle criticism.

How to handle criticism:

1)     Never reply right away: If someone criticized you through an Email , a blog comment or any other method that gave you the choice when to respond then don’t reply right away because: I) by replying quickly you show the person how he managed to stir up your emotions and disturb your balance II) because emotional responses will always be wrong as your mind wont be in a clear mental state.

Instead wait some time and allow yourself to do the rest of the these points before you take actions.

2)     Understand the intention behind the critical comment: If your parent criticized you then most probably he wants to see you a better person but what about people who criticize you because they are feeling jealous? What about others who were criticized as children thus grew up having a negative voice that lets them criticize everyone.  Certainly replying to these different categories of people the same way is a wrong thing to do.  That’s why you must first take your time to analyze the intention before you respond back to the person

3)     Never be defensive: One you turn to the defensive side you are I) admitting what the person said and II) you are allowing him to attack you even more.  Instead you should politely shift the focus on the person himself.  For example if you got a message such as “Your blog is worthless”  (apparently that’s someone with bad intention) you could reply saying “don’t let jealousy motivate you to attack people who never harmed you”

While your reply was very polite it will shock the other person because I) it will let him think about himself instead of attacking you further II) it will frighten him as it will show him that you understand the dynamics of his behavior.

4)     Smile :  Again if the person has bad intentions just smiling back to him will show him that you are confident enough and that you aren’t giving any weight to what he said about you.

5)     Ask yourself, what if the person is right: What if the one who criticized you was a good person who wanted your best? What if you were really wrong or if you needed to change something about yourself? Don’t let your ego stop you from first analyzing the comment and finding it whether its really true or weather it makes no sense. One final point to put into consideration is that even constructive criticism that is given in a harsh way is a sign of envy, jealousy or even hatred so treat it as if you treat non constructive criticism.

Written by M.Farouk Radwan

Founder of, The ultimate source for understanding yourself and others


44 Comments to “Five Powerful Ways to Respond to Criticism”

  1. Great advice! Words to ponder and fall back on. Thank you Dandy, for featuring M.Farouk.

    Criticism is hard to manage without becoming defensive or having feelings of insecurity creep up. I think it is so true that ego needs to be looked at internally, but also that a lot of criticism is just somebody else’s insecurities and responding with thoughtful, clear intentions is important!

    Blessings to you both!

  2. Dandy,

    I needed this a little earlier but it is still good to have for future use. I think your first tip is the most important and powerful. When you hastily spit back a response in the heat of the moment you will probably say something you will regret or even worse say something completely valid that is taken out of context because of you anger. In the world we live in every single person you meet has their own personal opinion about the way the world works. I think the faster we understand that not everyone understands our point of view the faster we can learn to not only respond to criticism but also live with it. Great Post Dandy!

    • I read through the meat in this post so fast that I just realized it was written by someone else. Great Job Farouk! You nailed this one.

    • I know what you mean Frank. I wish I had learned these lessons a long time ago. It would have saved me some wounds. I’ve learned that usually when someone make a criticism it’s about them not us. Holding our tongue for just a moment can save us regret too. Thanks so much for your great comment Frank! God Bless!

  3. Thanks for the reminder on critisim. this can be a soft spot for many. We all need to learn how to give it and take it. I have found that when people sometimes say it without really hearing there own words. When we pull back and think about it we can learn by it and also teach them how to word it correctly. Thanks Dandy for having J Farouk as your guest. Debbie

  4. The remember the old sayings “take it with a grain of salt and consider the source” in mind when I feel someone saying something hurtful. It helps me alot to stay focused and to hold my tongue for the monent. Thank you for the great post. Very insightful.

    • Hi Deb! Glad you liked this post. It takes a mature person to look beyond the criticism and see the person behind it and see “the place” where they are coming from. Staying focused inside ourselves really helps us to remain calm instead of reactive. Thanks so much for your comment!!

    • I am really glad you liked it Deb, i like the saying you mentioned , it made the article clearer 🙂

  5. Dandy,

    Good list. There’s no question when I hear criticism my best approach is to do nothing at first as you mention. This way I have the chance to be proactive with an appropriate response rather than reactive with a unproductive one.


  6. Hey Dandy!

    Very insightful! You always have to remember and think about, who this criticism is coming from too…whether it comes from a bum on the street, or the Queen of England, as long as you react to it in a positive and beneficial way, you take the power away from everyone who caries judgement and hostility towards others.

    Thanks for the post!

    Check out my Podcast about the power of Self-Talk and Persistance! Another great way to empower, and protect yourself from negativity.

    • Hi Mike,
      We have so much power and control over our reactions. We can choose not to be reactive. This takes alot of maturity and self-belief. If we care about ourselves than we will not lash out at those who criticise. We will look deeper. Thanks so much for your great comment Mike! I can’t wait to check out your podcast. I hope to hear from you again! Take care!

  7. great post


  8. Wow, you know your subject Mohamed!

    I personally love No.3 and No.4 – don’t be defensive as it proves the criticism was correct and smile as you need to take it on the chin with good nature. You give spot on advice all with a positive slant that diffuses anger and encourages an upbeat response in coming ill will or insight. Brilliantly well written Mohamed and fantastically well chosen guest poster Dandy. More please, more!!

  9. I don’t usually let criticisms affect me. Mostly, I hardly even respond.

    However, if they are from someone I care about, the opinions usually would affect me at some level. At first, I would get defensive. Thereafter, when I realize that their intentions are good, I would start to examine if they are true and what I need to do to help me shift positively. Recognizing my ego’s need for defense, I would ask myself what my deeper fears are.

  10. Loved this post. Read it during a really rough day and put your advice to work. Thanks for the helpful advice!

  11. Hi Farouk,

    Being able to manage criticism is indeed and essential life skill to have. I especially like your point on not replying right away. Responding to criticism quickly is rarely a good idea because of our emotional state. It is also hard to think logically on the spur of the moment. But given time, we will be in a more objective frame of mind to assess the value of the criticism.

    I have found that criticism is often a projection of the other person’s views and experiences. Since we are all human and prone to mistakes, we should not take criticism too personally. After all, there is more than one way to look at any situation and no one is right all the time.

    What we should do is to sift through the criticism to see if there is anything useful we can apply to further our goals. If there is, we should take it and apply it. If there isn’t, then the criticism is not worth thinking about.

    I have always been a huge fan of history because of the decision making process involved when emperors and generals determine what to do. Flanked by numerous advisers, some of whom do not mince their words, a ruler has to decide the best course of action based on the conflicting advice and criticism he receives on a daily basis. Here, a good ruler keeps an open mind and listen to all that is said. He takes the useful advice and criticism and discards the rest. But the ultimate decision lies with him or her.

    Remember, criticism is like water. It can float or sink a boat. How you view and use it is up to you.

    Thank you for writing this article Farouk and thank you for sharing it Dandy! 🙂

    Irving the Vizier

    • Hi Irving, I like the idea of taking the useful advice & criticism and discarding the rest. That’s great! We can choose to keep a calm presence and think with logic. Thanks for all the great comments you leave on my blog Irving!!

    • You are Right Vizier
      thanks for enriching the post with your comment
      i also like the analogy between criticism and water 🙂
      Glad to to see your comment here 🙂

  12. Farouk, you certainly know how to sum up wisdom precisely and neatly.

    The best way I respond to criticism is to understand that there are two things going on. First, the person is operating from a place of fear and hurt, that they are struggling to accept your actions/behaviour because it reminds them of something bad. Second, they criticise because they have seen something that they want to draw attention to. Something that needs correcting from their point of view.

    So, to sum up, don’t take what they say seriously, and listen to what they’re specifically criticising. You may discover something new 🙂

    • Hey Stuart!
      I really like your comment! You are right when people criticise they are coming from a place of hurt. I think that when we notice that our defensiveness will crumble. Thanks so much for your wisdom Stuart!

    • Hey Stuart 🙂
      happy to see you here 🙂
      yes that’s what i was trying to say
      sometimes people criticize others to get attention , because they are jealous…etc without having any good intentions

  13. Hi Dandy – thanks for featuring this post from Farouk.

    Less face it, criticism does nobody any good. It really doesn’t. It hurts feelings and creates resentment. I’ve learned through managing people professionally and being a parent and older siblings that providing critical suggestion is much better than criticizing. Here’s the difference…

    Criticizing has a negative tone and doesn’t offer a positive solution to supplement. Critical suggestion is more about offering suggestive solutions.

    I tell you this, no matter which I think is better from my experience – people will always criticizes us. With that in play, the tips shared in this post are of great importance to us all!

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Jk!
      Thanks so much for your great comment! There is definately a big difference in criticizing and critical suggestion. When there is a tone of negativity people either become defensive or just shut down. I believe that doors of opportunity open for us when we learn the difference. Take care Jk!

    • Hi Jk
      thanks for your comment 🙂
      let me join you too in thanking Dandy once again for giving me this great chance to post on her blog
      you are right, criticism when said in a bad way can have counter affects, people should think wisely before saying anything

  14. This was some really great advice. 🙂 I try to practice this when meeting confrontation–I don’t always win that inner conflict, but I do put in the effort. 😀

  15. These are excellent ways to combat criticism. Handling criticism the wrong way can give people more reasons to criticize you. The best thing is to smile, learn from it and keep doing your best.

    • Hi Paula,
      That’s it exactly! Hadling criticism the wrong way is just adding feul to the fire. Taking the high road isn’t always easy, but it is a road we never will regret going down. Thanks so much for your comment Paula. I hope to hear from you again!


    • That’s a great point Paula
      sometimes a person can do a mistake by responding to criticism in a wrong way then end up being criticized by everybody and considered mistaken even though he was just defending himself

      i should have added this point to the article , thank you dear :))

  16. All of these are great tips. If we could just practice the first one and not reply right away, we would create a little space to make the other suggestions easier! It has been hard for me to learn to sit with my discomfort before reacting. Great post.

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