How to Take Criticism from Hurtful to Helpful

By guest author Amber Hensley

Simon CowellEven the best intentioned of people sometimes dole out criticism that can hurt your pride and flat out make you feel bad about yourself, especially if you put a lot of effort into what is being criticized.

You don’t have to let criticism get to you, however, especially if you feel it’s being given out unjustly.

Here are some ways that you can turn a negative into a positive and use even the harshest of criticisms constructively.

Look for the truth in it. Sometimes criticism appears harsh because it’s simply something that we don’t want to hear.

Be honest with yourself and see if there is some truth to what your critics are saying. It may help you out immensely in the long run.

Use it to help you improve. While you can’t ever please everyone at once, taking criticism and using it to shape and rethink how you work can be extremely beneficial.

Take a look at the criticism leveled at you and use what you can to make you better than ever before.

Let it motivate you. Criticism, even the harshest of it, can be a great motivator. Whether you want to show people what you’re made of or just truly want to do better, use harsh words to motivate you to work harder at whatever you’re doing.

Consider the source. There are some people out there who just have it in for you, no matter what you do. When you get criticism from someone like that it’s rarely helpful, and sometimes all you can do is ignore it.

On the other hand, if it’s coming from someone who knows a lot about what you’re working on, even if it’s mean, it may be valuable, so weigh your sources before deciding what to ignore and what to pay attention to.

Remove the personal. If criticism comes at you with a pretty personal jab in it, consider setting this aside and looking at it from a more objective viewpoint. There may still be something valid in there once you get past the part that is directed at you and not what you’ve done.

Focus on the good. Very rarely is all that someone has to say about your work all negative, it just seems that way because we tend to focus on the negative aspects.

Sometimes it can actually be helpful to put aside those negatives and instead focus on the things that you’re doing right. It may help boost your confidence and give you a place to start from on your next venture.

This post was contributed by Amber Hensley, who writes about the online college reviews. She welcomes your feedback at AmberHensley1980@


Related post: Dealing with self-criticism.

Photo: American Idol judge Simon Cowell, “notorious for his unsparingly blunt and often controversial criticisms, insults, and wisecracks about contestants and their singing abilities, or lack thereof.” [Wikipedia]. From post Eric Maisel on meaning and criticism.

Originally posted 2009-08-21 23:01:00.


  1. This was, for me, a terrific and very timely article. While I’d already arrived at points 1 and 2 in her article, the remainder, which I’d only barely mentally started on, gave me some reinforcement and some new help. Thank you, Amber!

  2. If we are pursuing excellence in our lives, we will soon receive criticism from those who are committed to mediocrity. We can take their criticism with a grain of salt. On the other hand, we need to be committed to tough learning from those who are ahead of us on the journey to success: their criticism is worth its weight in gold.

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