How To Receive Correction Without Letting It Destroy You

I don’t know of anyone who actually likes to receive criticism, constructive or not. 

We always say we “welcome feedback,” but do we really? Are we actually okay when we present something huge at work, ask for comments, and then our managers or bosses pick the work apart? Or how about when we ask our partners if there’s anything we can be doing to make the relationship better and they pull out a list?

The sad truth is, we all know that we have room to grow, but we’re not always happy when people point that out to us. If it leaves such a bad taste in our mouths, do we actually need criticism in order to grow? 

The short answer is, yes. 

No matter how much sense it makes that we will get corrected constantly, we still hate getting corrected. The couple is fighting because one of them keeps correcting the other. This boss is horrible because they’re always nit-picking the employee’s work. That mother is helicopter parenting and always telling her kids to do better. 

What if we looked at criticism and correction through the lens of growth? 

That couple is constantly trying to improve their relationship, so they are always pointing out things they can both do better. The boss is training her employees to take her job one day, so she’s being vigilant with them. The mother doesn’t want her child to make the same mistakes she made, so she’s making sure they’re doing what’s best for them. 

And yes, there will be some times when correction is not necessary and it’s more of a power trip than constructive criticism aimed toward growth – but, ideally, most correction will be legitimately constructive

Why Can’t We Take Criticism?

I, personally, crumble when I get negative feedback or someone tells me I did something wrong. My self-esteem plummets, imposter syndrome kicks in, and I awfulize everything. Suddenly, I’m the worst employee, girlfriend, friend, or daughter and I should leave. It doesn’t matter if it was a simple mistake or something I dropped the ball on completely – criticism always feels like a personal attack to me. 

Yes, I am overdramatic. But I am not alone in my disdain towards criticism. 

Most people care about the work they produce, the relationships they’re in, and the life they’re cultivating. When they receive a correction about any of these, it’s hard to separate the person they are with the work they’ve produced. Suddenly, a quick comment about how to do something better turns over and over in their heads and they convince themselves that they, at their core, are ‘less than’ because of this comment. 

The reality of the situation is that someone saw something wrong, spoke up about it, and then probably forgot about it. We correct people all the time and usually don’t think twice about it. So there’s no reason to assume every correction is a personal attack on us.  

We all want to be perfect and hope everything we do is applauded and praised. But when that doesn’t happen and we have a moment where we slip up, we also need to be able to take correction and not let it destroy us. We’re humans, and criticism isn’t this horrible monster – it’s just a tool for growth.

How To Receive Correction

Being able to take correction means having a growth mentality. We always want to do the best we can and if we make a mistake, the only way to know that and grow from it is to realize it was a mistake. 

Amanda E. White, LPC shares what she does when she receives negative criticism. She suggests taking a notebook and drawing two columns. She writes what was actually said on one side, and on the other side, she writes what her interpretation was. 

This exercise is life-changing because it separates feelings from facts. So often, we get caught up in our emotions and let them cloud how we see or experience the truth. There might be some truth and room for growth in any criticism, but it might not have been said in a constructive or professional manner, thus hurting our feelings. 

Also know that sometimes, a manager might say something and it comes off as a personal attack, especially when we so closely associate our work with our worth. Know the difference and see the truth in what is being said to you. If your manager is constantly picking on you, go to them first, address the issue, and if it doesn’t stop, then go to HR. 

There’s no need to ruminate on every shard of criticism we get and let it ruin us. Using White’s method allows us to visually see the difference between what was said versus how our own insecurities interpret the situation.

Also, stay humble when you receive criticism. You’re not above correction, no matter how high you are. There’s always going to be room to grow and if you can accept correction, you’ll grow faster. Thank the people who criticize you. It’s often easier to simply fix a mistake and not remark on it, but if someone above you in the company hierarchy is correcting you, they know you can grow and can handle the criticism. 

Correcting someone is a form of love and respect. You don’t correct people if you don’t believe in them. The next time you receive correction, think to yourself how grateful you are that the person believes that you can receive it and wants to see you succeed. 

Criticism is a part of life. No one gets through life without getting corrected every now and then. And we should embrace and grow from it rather than fear it. 


How do you handle correction? Comment below!

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