5 ways you can get more comfortable taking criticism – FAST Company post

Feedback and criticism are going to happen, so why not take a more positive approach to them with these tips?

By: Josh Womack

We are *big* on introspection. You should be too – and with good reason. Introspection leads to greater empathy and higher EQ. Greater EQ leads to happier teams. Earlier in my career one of my former managers called this ‘servant leadership.’ Thank you, Tony.

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Steven Pressfield, in his bestseller The Art of War, says: “The professional gives an ear to criticism, seeking to learn and grow.”

[Photo: MadVector/iStock]

If you’re a writer (or any creator), you probably know this to be true. You’ve likely tried to accept feedback in a bid to improve your work. But I’m willing to bet that every time someone doesn’t like what you wrote or produced, it stings. And it’s personal, too.

Anytime I’m in a presentation, my fight or flight response kicks in—usually, a half-second before my headlines hit the screen. Will the customer hate it? Or not understand it? Do I even know what I’m talking about? Maybe I should leave this meeting right now.

I know that I’m not alone, so I asked a few of my favorite authors, speechwriters, and content creators how they stay the course when criticism and feedback rear its ugly and inevitable head.


Most people give you feedback to try and help you be better, not to lower your self-esteem. But as a creator, you know your work better than anyone else, so be selective about whose feedback you take to heart.

Amy Morin, author of the international bestseller 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, says, “When editors and other people give you constructive criticism, their intention is not to break you down. In most cases, they are trying to help you be the best you can be. And many times, their suggestions are just what you need to help bring out your own creativity in the best way.”

However, she adds, “It’s also good to remember that someone else’s opinion isn’t necessarily fact. There are times when you need to trust your own judgment.” In the end, Morin says, “You need to feel comfortable with what you’re delivering to the world.”


For many creators, their work represents their identity. As a result, if someone doesn’t view their work favorably, it can be challenging to respond graciously. Jeff Pearlman, author of Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and The Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, knows this all too well. He says, “When I was younger, I was really bad at this. My first job, at The Tennessean—was plagued by my awful attitude toward changes, and I owe every editor an apology for my behavior. Pearlman says he’s gotten better with age. “First, I remind myself that today’s article is tomorrow’s fish wrap (whether it’s online or print). Second, I try to keep an open mind,” he explains.

“I’m probably a better writer now than 20 years ago, but I’m also more willing to admit I’m not perfect, and sometimes ideas from others are good ones. Not everything has to come from me,” Pearlman admits, “So, I guess, the key is perspective.”


You might be an award-winning comedian, but there will always be someone who doesn’t like your skit. That doesn’t mean you’re a failure.

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