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How to Respond When Criticized

By Marty Nemko

A critical moment in your worklife is when your boss criticizes you. Apologize too quickly and you appear wimpy, confirming your boss's sense that you're a loser. Get defensive and you'll probably alienate your boss. Usually, the best response to a criticism is to ask a question, for example,
"Can you give me something specific to work on?" At worst, you'll get feedback. At best, your question will trigger a discussion that leads your boss to conclude that your work wasn't so bad after all. In either case, you won't have escalated the problem.

What can you do today?
When next criticized, don't apologize so fast, don't defend yourself. Instead, a question to better understand the criticism.

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