How to Take Constructive Criticism from your Boss

It’s fair to say that nobody enjoys being criticised. Regardless of who the critique comes from, being a boss, partner, friend or family member, nothing makes hearing the often harsh truth easier.

As an inevitable part of life, there will always come a point in time where you will need to have a meeting with your boss where they have to give you feedback on your performance, actions and behaviour. 

While this can be very daunting and hard to deal with even if you have a fantastic relationship, we like to try and turn a negative into a positive. Dissecting what can happen while receiving feedback, we’ve put together some of the best ways that you can take the constructive criticism from your boss and deal with it in a positive manner. Being able to then learn and grow from that experience and the feedback you’ve been given. 


  • Stay Calm

This one may be easier said than done given nobody enjoys being criticized. It’s very easy in the heat of the moment to either lose your temper, become overly emotional or say something that you should’ve thought about before saying. Stop your initial reaction and think about just how you should react appropriately in the situation before you regret it later (Lindsay 2020).

It’s not uncommon for your heart to beat rapidly or to become sweaty and flushed in this type of situation. When this happens it’s important for you to breathe deeply and at least appear calm. Taking this approach will hinder any aggressive tendencies from either party and also likely calm the person you’re speaking to as well (Psychology Today 2018).


  • Have Empathy

While perhaps not the first thing that you think of when considering how to deal with constructive criticism, try and think about the situation from the other person’s perspective.

Try and have empathy for them as this is likely very hard for them to deliver and bring up. In a somewhat awkward situation like this, the person delivering the feedback may be nervous and coming across differently to how they had hoped or planned (Psychology Today 2018).

If they’re coming across as rude or aggressive (especially if that’s not how they usually act), it’s completely fine to not respond to the critiques immediately. Rather saying that you need time to think about what they’ve said in-depth.

This is also an opportunity to perhaps deescalate the situation and continue the conversation after you both have had time to think and react more appropriately.


  • Listen

It can be very easy to hold onto one minor thing and begin to overthink it while in this situation. Doing this isn’t productive and can actually make you miss important other parts of the conversation, or misconstrue how or what information is being delivered to you.

Be sure that you’re actively listening to every detail the person is telling you. This will help ensure that you’re not focusing on one small negative section, or missing other parts which could actually be positive and constructive. If you need to take a notepad and write things down also, thats more than fine.


  • Take it as an opportunity

So we’re not saying that the situation is anything but awkward and awful, but it is an inevitable part of working in any role or company. It is however completely up to you how you deal with the situation during and after. We fully believe turning a negative into a positive is the healthiest approach to dealing with any situation when you’re recieving constructive criticism.

When you’re being delivered feedback, remember that you have the opportunity to learn how you can improve. Even if you don’t completely agree with every critique being given, at least you now have the information to know how others may perceive your abilities or behaviour. This is a chance to at least have an opportunity to address the critiques or improve on them (Zenhabits).

The best outcome when being given feedback by your boss is that you have the opportunity to become a better worker. Never forget the benefits of being given feedback or the possibilities of what you can learn from it (Lindsay 2020).


  • Follow Up and Give Feedback

Being given feedback isn’t a one time occurrence. This is especially the case if you were unsure or didn’t necessarily agree with the feedback you were initially given. After a feedback meeting with your boss, make another time on a seperate day to go back over the feedback you were given (Forbes 2012)

This gives you the opportunity to seek specific examples to perhaps help understand the key issues they have raised. You can also acknowledge the feedback and seek specific solutions they’d recommend.

Following up after is also an opportunity for you to give your boss feedback and peer critique on how they delivered that information. If the way they spoke wasn’t constructive, or was too harshly delivered this is a great opportunity to give them feedback on this.

Being able to give feedback constructively and positively isn’t often an easy or naturally occurring skill, so during this process you have the opportunity to mutually be able to help each other be better and improve your working relationship (Harvard Business Review 2019).