5 Wrong Ways to Respond to Criticism

Criticism accompanies leadership. The only way to avoid criticism is to do nothing. If a leader is taking an organization somewhere, and really even if he or she isn’t, someone will criticize his or her efforts. The way a leader responds to criticism says much about the maturity of the leader and the quality of his or her leadership.

Here are 5 wrong ways to respond to criticism:

Finding fault with the critic – Instead of admitting there might be validity to the criticism, many leaders immediately attempt to discredit the person offering it.

Blaming others – Many leaders realize the criticism may be valid, but they aren’t willing to accept personal responsibility, so they pass it along to others.

Throwing back criticism – Often a leader will receive criticism and instead of analyzing whether there is validity or not, the leader begins to criticize other organizations or leaders.

Ignoring an opportunity to learn – This is a big one, because criticism can be a great teaching tool. It needs a filter and the person, circumstances and … need to be taken into consideration, but with every criticism rests an opportunity to learn something positive for the organization or about the leader.

Appeasing – Many leaders are so fearful of conflict that they attempt to satisfy all critics, even if they never intend to follow through or make changes because of the criticism. If there is no merit to criticism then don’t act like there is merit.

What else would you add as a wrong way to respond to criticism?

I’ve been guilty of all of these at one time or another. Awareness is half the battle. Identifying the wrong ways to respond to criticism and working to correct this in your leadership is part of growing as a leader.

I’ve written about criticism previously in these posts:

5 Right Ways to Respond to Criticism

Accommodating Versus Ignoring Criticism

Ignoring Advice Can Be Costly

Three Reasons to Never Respond to Criticism in Anger

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add video comment

Have you Subscribed via RSS yet? Don't miss a post!

26 thoughts on “5 Wrong Ways to Respond to Criticism

  1. One I have seen over the years, is trying to downplay it all. Everyone has that, all people do that. Making sure it sounds smaller than it is, not really in need of addressing.
    Twitter: bryankr

  2. I think another risk, or wrong way to receive criticism is to let it define you. If criticism is constructive, it isn't going to just be an insult to your whole identity. Yet, some people assume that if someone gives them constructive criticism, then they are a failure or a bad person. We need to keep it in perspective to get use from it.

  3. You forgot number #6 – punching them in the face – certainly a wrong way to respond but unfortunately it is the approach seen in the media all the time

  4. Sometimes I see Christians ignore criticism/correction because the person who's giving it is not a believer. I see this at work a lot. Well, if you believed God for the job then he knew that person would be your manager. Any criticism/correction should be taken to the Lord.

    • Good point. I like your take on this. God spoke through a donkey. He can speak through a non-believer if He chooses to. Plus some things are common sense and it takes someone outside to see our flaws at times.

  5. Good adds. Just a thought, you have such good ones here, you could take my posts and post a companion to them on your blog…get double impact with your comments here and on your blog too. Keep them coming!

  6. I use to take every criticism as truth from God because I wanted to be humble and receivable. I soon found myself beat up with it all. Wounded, I have slowly learned that not ALL criticism is necessarily God lead. Some have an agenda.

  7. Ron, I think you nailed it. I guess punching the criticizer in the face would be a wrong response :) It really takes maturity to respond to criticism well. Every time I heart it I need to process it slowly rather than react. My natural tendency is to blame the criticizer for not knowing what they're talking about.
    Twitter: dsantistevan

    • I love it! I laughed at this one. Actually, if some guy criticizes my wife…a punch may be in order. Meant to put that in the fine print!