There are many types of critics out there but they can essentially be broken down into two key groups. The critical with a purpose and those that are critical simply for the sake of being critical. We can even break it down to more simple terms and categorize them as the positive and the negative.
People who are critical with a purpose are usually positive critics. They are providing critical feedback in the hopes of helping you learn and improve. You will typically find this type of criticism from a boss or a mentor.
Now just because the intentions are usually altruistic doesn’t mean that the criticism will always come to you in a way that you perceive as positive, especially when it comes from a boss. A mentor typically plays a slightly different role than a boss so the criticism they give you will most likely be wrapped in compliments and encouragement. A boss shares the same intentions in that they want to help you on the road to self-improvement but there is also a more personal motive. The better you are at your job the more valuable you become to them as an employee. They have a business to run and your actions will directly impact their ability to do so. That is why in most cases criticism will come in the form of a formal reprimand, a warning, or a tough conversation.
The important thing to remember with both is that ultimately the reason behind the criticism is to help you succeed. No matter what form it comes in you should not take it personally and you should not ignore it.
There are others who like to be critical just to be critical. These are the critics you should avoid and ignore. It’s the person at work that is condescending and always eager to tell you that you are doing something wrong but never offers any ideas to help you improve. They make it seem as though it is their life’s mission to make sure everybody feels inadequate. Unfortunately, we’ve all known them and we must all live with them but you don’t have to and should not listen to them. If you can learn to distinguish between these two types of criticism and can learn how to gracefully accept criticism you will soon see a vast improvement in the way you do things.
It’s also important to seek out criticism proactively. Burying your head in the sand will get you nowhere and may even cause you great setbacks. Be more proactive by soliciting advice and asking for feedback regularly. There will be less of a sting when the criticism rolls in. My suggestion is to always ask what you can do to improve. This proactive approach will help you learn to take criticism as well as help prevent situations such as a formal reprimand or even that dreaded uncomfortable conversation with a superior.