How to handle criticism like a boss

FACT: if you are doing something worthwhile, anything at all, you can expect criticism. It goes with the turf. Word of advice; it’s okay. We (myself included) just need to get better at dealing with it.

Elbert Hubbard famously said; “To avoid criticism, do nothing, and be nothing.” I’m presuming that you want to be something and do something, so read on.

If you are doing something that has encouraged criticism; CONGRATULATIONS! High five, you are on the track. You’ve put yourself out there. You’ve voiced an idea. You’ve innovated something. That’s more than some.

A few years ago we held a fundraiser for a young woman within our community. She had pioneered a charity in Cambodia and we wanted to support her. Unfortunately, the fundraiser didn’t raise as much money. Naturally our friend was disappointed, as were we, but I wasn’t expecting a curt email telling us so. In the space of three paragraphs she unleashed about how we had mislead her and dropped ball.

At first I got all prickly. How dare she?! I wasn’t expecting a bouquet of flowers, but I sure as heck wasn’t expecting a shellacking.

I wanted to give her a piece of my mind, followed by a helping of I-never-want-to-see-you-again.

Thankfully, after a few minutes (probably closer to 2 days) my jets cooled. Wisdom prevailed. I could let my ego shape up and swing back OR I could grow. I chose grow.

This young woman was coming from a place a passion. Sure, she may have benefited from a crash course in interpersonal skills, but this charity is her baby. She’s devoted time, money, energy, talent and sleepless nights to establish this charity. She’s cranky because she loves her baby.

*Light-bulb* She is the type of person we want in our community!

She is a strong, brave, passionate woman who is making an incredible difference in the world.

In fact, we want our Circle community to be teaming with people just like her.

Time to draw up the perimeters of the type of community we were building. We welcome visionaries, audacious dreamers, heretics, game-changers, rule-breakers, movers and shakers.

We could be offended or were we could create a community robust enough to accommodate strong leaders. This was a real growth moment for us.

Criticism-0, Circle-1. If you want my advice; make peace with criticism.

Here’s 3 steps that may help;


It’s inevitable. Don’t allow the fear of possibly being criticised stop you from getting in the game. Nursing hurt feelings is usually the worst that can happen. Not accomplishing your dream feels way worse.

The truth is; everyone has an opinion. Some people are more vocal with theirs than others. When criticism is leveled at you have two choices;

You can take a leaf out of Taylor’s book and “shake it off” or you can choose to take it on board. In my experience there is a time and place for both options.


Destructive-criticism and constructive-criticism are brothers from two very different mothers.

Criticism without explanation, is the destructive kind. It’s usually ego-based and unhelpful to your situation.

Constructive criticism on the other hand, if received well, can be your opportunity to grow.

Next time you receive criticism ask yourself;

  • Is the critic somebody I respect?

  • Do they have my best interest at heart?

  • Can I grow from what is being said?

It’s most likely constructive criticism if you can answer YES to all of the above.

3. Don’t freak out

When somebody criticises something close to your heart, your initial reaction might be to;

  • Get defensive

  • Retreat and vow never to do anything exceptional again

  • Bite the person’s head off

None of these responses are in your best interest. It’s important to keep a cool head. Take a step back, breath and get some perspective. Try to separate yourself from the criticism. The criticism is almost always about the work/idea/product and not about your character, your potential or who you are.

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