Here's a Tip on Handling Criticism

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Tip: When a superior is offering "constructive criticism" the best thing to do is listen intently and when he or she is finished start off by saying:

Thank you for caring enough to share your constructive feedback with me.


I learned this tip over 10 years ago in a training program. The point of the tip was that the best way to handle criticism is with gratitude. It is important to learn from criticism & it can help us be better on the job.


I used this tip for the first time ever when my instructor pulled me into the hall to offer constructive feedback about me expressing negative feelings during class. I was so embarrassed when she asked to "speak to me in private" so I decided that I would be grateful and thankful for whatever criticism she offered.

My cheeks burned scarlet as she talked to me, but I didn't cry. When I thanked her, she was shocked! Literally, her mouth dropped open & she started to sputter so I had to repeat that I appreciated her feedback b/c she expected me to be defensive.


I am glad that I got my first dressing down for classroom rather than clinical behavior. I don't think I will ever like getting criticized, but because I treated my instructor with respect, I felt very proud of my maturity.


P. S. Never in my life has a higher up ever wanted to talk to me in private to tell me what a great job I am doing.



7 Posts

THAT is some AWESOME advice, and after 20+ years of doing this I can tell you, it is the BEST thing to do when trying to either diffuse anger, hostility, or criticism....


1,214 Posts

Wow, I am truly impressed.

Specializes in 5 yrs OR, ASU Pre-Op 2 yr. ER.

The fact that an instructor asks to speak to me privately instead of berating me in front of a crowd is enough for me to thank her.


1,214 Posts

That is so true. You here so many stories of instructors laying people out in front of everyone. It is nice to she she showed you respect.


593 Posts

That was very good advice...thank you.



3,932 Posts

Specializes in LTC, ER, ICU,.

great advice.


415 Posts

Thanks for sharing that, PlanetCaroline. I know you will go far in your career, and life, for that matter. Best wishes!

gwenith, BSN, RN

3,755 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

An apology really costs so little and can actually be the start of a constructive an mutually appreciative relationship. Apologising gracefully though is an art and one that allways allows YOU to remain in control of the situation.

Saying "I am sorry" can and often does put you into the victim role and I think a lot of people do not wish or will not apologise because they do not wish to "lose" to become the victim. A gracious apology where you thank the person for feedback/insight and in particular if you can at the same time compliment them puts you if not back in control at least on the same footing. I becomes "assertive" rather than passive or aggressive.


612 Posts

I have tried that approach in the past myself and it really does work. People who criticize you are ready for an argument, but if you thank them for their suggestions and comments, they are literally at a standstill as to what to say next. Often if people are criticized they are quick to anger and this only fans the fire. Emotions rise and hostilities come surging forth. If you stand there and just listen and acknowledge what they have said, try to stay composed and thank them for their comments, you actually have the upper hand. It does work!


138 Posts

studies show that both criticism and praise are more effective when given in private.


97 Posts

If it is a negative criticism and from a superior, put your reply in writing and request for a hearing with the Department head. Then take seriously what was said negatively and improve on it. The critic might not know how to share criticism with care as a real Nurse can. It helped me.:idea:

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