Motivating and communicating

When to disregard negative criticism


Accepting criticism is one of the most difficult and uncomfortable tasks we face at work. Yet, the ability to use criticism productively is an important trait shared by effective people.

It's important to remember that not all criticism is valid. To benefit from negative feedback, you must learn to appraise criticism and decide whether to act on it. Otherwise, you may react to every negative comment and end up adopting counterproductive habits. Use these criteria to determine how to respond to negative feedback:

  • The source. Is the person qualified to criticize you and your work? Do you agree with the criticism? Just because you like or respect someone doesn't necessarily mean the person is competent to evaluate your job performance.
  • The pattern. Examining the consistency of criticism is important because it helps you determine whether you need to change your behavior in general or just in the context of one relationship or situation.

If you hear similar criticism from more than one person, chances are you need to change something about your behavior. If only one person has a problem with your work habits, you may need to modify the way you communicate with that person. 

Jules Ciotta is president of Motivation Communications Associates. He can be reached at (770) 457-4100 or



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