Waitress receiving feedback from her boss

Here’s What To Do When You Receive Criticism And Rejection

Everyone will face criticism and rejection in life. Such occurrences are a normal (and sometimes considered essential) part of growth. Although usually meant for the greater good, criticism can hurt. This is especially so when you’ve tried your very best and are proud of your achievements. Hearing words such as “this isn’t good enough” can really set us back and stimulate feelings of inadequacy. This results in a loss of confidence, or maybe even stir up anger and resentment.

However, from a different perspective, criticism and rejection can be utilized for improvement and should be exploited rather than avoided.


When you receive criticism and rejection:


1. Ponder on it

Girl reading and thinking on a chair

It’s important to take a moment to understand your critic’s words. Don’t immediately get defensive or feel as if we have failed. Try to adopt an open-minded stance and look at things from the other person’s point of view. People bring different ideas to a project. These different views are important in order to create a more comprehensive, flexible result that relates to people from diverse backgrounds. Be open to conversations about what may be improved, or whether certain aspects are lacking. We give feedback for the purpose of improvement, and we cannot achieve improvement by being rigid.


2. Recognise the nature of the criticism

Waitress receiving feedback from her boss

Criticisms that help are constructive, while those solely for the reason of making you feel inferior are destructive. We should understand the differences between constructive and destructive criticism. Constructive criticism is relevant, points out flaws, and grants solutions or at least a direction on how to correct the flaw; destructive criticism on the other hand may be personal, irrelevant to the particular work/project, and more targeted at you as a person. Of course, sometimes amendments to our own attitude is necessary, however, if the criticism leans more towards an ‘insult’, then that may not be too helpful in improving our work/skills. Therefore, it’s vital to truly understand where the critic is coming from, why they’re criticizing our work, and how their feedback can help. Constructive criticism typically comes with reasoning, guidance, and suggestions on how to get better.


3. Change your mindset

We should understand that people who give constructive criticism are on the same side as us. They intend to build us up or push us in the right direction and are not trying to tear us down or sabotage our efforts. Hence, we should view criticism and rejection as a learning opportunity, instead of as an obstacle that sets us back. We as human beings all make mistakes, and these mistakes do not define us. Do not beat yourself up too much when you face opposition, because your work or skills alone do not directly reflect your character. Rather, it is an extension of you, one that is available for constant improvement. Criticism and rejection plays a part as a stepping stone in achieving consistent growth. Do not take rejection of your work personally, remember that the critic is evaluating your work, and not your value as a human being.


4. Take action

Women talking and discussing around a table

Instead of feeling dejected, bitter, or unmotivated, take action to correct what you can according to the advice given. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions if you are unclear about what needs to be changed. Remember that those who criticise constructively are usually happy to help! Once you see for yourself that acting on criticism/rejection results in greater outcomes, you won’t feel threatened by it. Instead, you’re more likely to welcome it. Humility is vital in this step; Recognise that your work may not be the best. Inputs from other knowledgeable or experienced individuals could be valuable and useful to you! Accept the fact that we all have something to learn, no matter how good or capable we believe we are in a certain subject. Growing accustomed to criticism over time will help to minimise negative feelings about it. Thus, we will be less likely to fear or avoid it in order to protect our self-esteem.



Whenever we receive criticism or face any sort of rejection, it’s vital that we adopt an open-minded stance and be humble in our response. Take a moment to truly understand the reason and context behind the criticism, know and accept that having flaws is natural, and be open to seeking additional guidance in order to improve our work and hone our skills.

Living life to learn and to love. Passionate about social work and helping others.

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