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The Champion Forum Podcast

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Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast! One of the prices of leadership is criticism. The reality is that you could be doing everything right as a leader and still get criticized. The key is to ensure you have the proper perspective and respond appropriately. Today’s podcast will discuss the four steps you need to follow to correctly react to criticism and address some common pitfalls you should avoid. Remember, it’s not a question of if you will receive criticism; it’s when. Knowing how you will respond to criticism ahead of time will help you protect your personal brand and quickly resolve the issue.

4 Ways to Deal With Criticism:

1. Don’t respond immediately!

It’s natural to have an emotional response to criticism, but those emotions can easily cloud your ability to respond constructively.

When you feel an emotional reaction to criticism, don’t respond for 24 hours. If it’s a written complaint, you don’t have to say anything. If someone comes into your office or calls you, simply thank them for their feedback. After 24 hours, you will be less emotional and more prepared to follow the rest of these steps.

2. Ask Yourself: Is There Any Truth In This?

Self-awareness is one of the pillars of emotional intelligence, and our critics help us become more self-aware. Take some time to reflect on the criticism and ask yourself if there is any truth in the complaint. You may need to ask a mentor or friend to help you identify any blind spots related to their criticism.


Many leaders get defensive and arrogant when criticized, especially when it’s from their boss. If you made a mistake, own up to it. Great leaders will assume responsibility; weak leaders blame others. Whether or not the criticism is valid is irrelevant. You have to be more concerned with what is right than with who is right.

4. Reply Relationally

Focus on developing a relational connection with the person who criticized you by continuing the conversation. If they emailed you, give them a call. If they stopped you in the hallway, take them out to coffee. You will usually diffuse the situation and limit the conflict’s withdrawal from the relationship by taking things a step further than they did.

When you begin to handle criticism more effectively, you will notice that your people will respect you more, driving increased engagement and productivity.

Application Activities

  1. When was the last time you talked to someone about your blind spots? Having regular conversations with your peers, mentors, and even employees about the areas you need to improve will help you be a better leader and avoid some conflict before it happens. A regular checkup will help you be more aware of how you respond to adverse situations and ensure that you respond to criticism that does not damage your leadership brand.

  2. Understanding your personality and how you respond to stress. Are you familiar with your Meyers Briggs, DISC, or Enneagram? If so, how does your personality type react to stress? Some personalities are prone to acting out, while others prefer to keep everything bottled up inside. Neither approach is correct, but understanding your natural tendencies will help you identify your weaknesses and potential pitfalls before they happen. For example, if you tend to respond in anger when people criticize you, come up with a strategy to exit the conversation so you can cool off before you respond. If you tend to choose not to respond and shut the other person out, create a plan to help you deal with conflict and respond within 24-48 hours.

  3. Open the lines of communication. Sometimes people respond with strong criticism because they have been holding back their feedback for days, weeks, or even months. Are you open to receiving feedback? An excellent way to assess this is to look at the last time you received negative feedback from your team. If it’s been a few weeks or months, you may not be giving your team any room to come to you. Start by creating space in your group meetings for people to disagree with you. Invite criticism and critiques. You can also use this time to set expectations for how you want to receive criticism and show how feedback will help your team grow.

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