Three Warning Signs That You Do Not Take Criticism Well


Frustrated boy

The mere sight of the word “criti…” makes some people cringe. Doesn’t matter if it’s critic, critical, or yes, criticism.

Before now, some would not dare say anything to your face out of fear or maybe shyness. In this internet-driven age, things have changed.

Most even send and say nasty things about people they would never have the guts to walk up to in person, let alone criticize them to their faces.

Criticism is often unsolicited, but does that make it any less valid? Sometimes that fact makes accepting it difficult for some as you’ll see in a moment.

How do you react when criticized? Does your reaction vary with criticism received? If you always do one or all of the following, then maybe you should consider how to handle criticism better next time.

  1. You’re always defensive when criticized

This is very natural. But if you always try to find an excuse for why the criticism should be ignored or why the critic is wrong, I’m afraid you have a problem.

By defensive I don’t necessarily mean trying to explain why what we did was right, or trying to make excuses for our actions. No, I mean trying to find reasons to minimize the criticism because of one or several factors. Some will be considered in this post.

A critic may not be completely right about their observation or complaint about you. That is true. So it’s easy to dismiss the critic simply because you feel he did not grasp the whole picture.

But pause and think: “Was there not some valid reason for the criticism?” If there really was, try to focus on that first and see if you can improve or work on the problem.

Nobody is perfect. We’ve all figured that out. Even a newborn child will eventually discover his or her parents are less than perfect. So if you’re always thinking a critic’s view of matters is wrong, considering your own limitations (imperfection) could it be it’s your view that needs adjustment sometimes?


  1. He’s in no position to criticize me

This is too common. People are more likely to resent criticism when they feel it’s not coming from an expert.

Why should a single man tell me I’m not raising my kids well? Why should a divorcee try to tell me how to make my marriage last? Why should my jobless friend tell me I’m not dedicated to my work? Or why should he try to tell me how to keep a job when he has none?

You get the picture. Because you feel they’re not “qualified” to criticize you, you take what they say with a grain of salt.

Look at the above cases or scenarios for instance. A single man may offer a nice suggestion on how to be a good father not because he’s a father, but because he knows exactly what bad parenting is. He may not have had a perfect childhood, but he may have seen what has worked in rearing children from several successful parents over the years. So don’t think simply because he’s not a dad, he cannot offer practical suggestions.

Fine. I know you’re already saying seeing and experiencing a situation are two different things. And you’re right. Some may even go further to say: “Experience is the best teacher, so if he has no experience in rearing his own child, his counsel isn’t any use to me.” Then I disagree.

It’s actually best to learn from the experiences of others, as having to experience some situations so we can learn from them could be fatal. You may eventually need to do a little tweaking from the experience of others to find what works for you, but that’s not bad in any way.

My point? Dismissing the lad just because he has no kids of his own isn’t wise.

Take the second example. A divorcee telling a married man how to make his marriage last. Love takes two they say. Marriage takes three (that’s depending on whether you’re a Christian or not because Christians believe God is the third person in a marriage).

Back to the love part. That someone is a divorcee doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been a bad husband or a terrible wife. If you feel that way then you’ve forgotten so soon that a romantic relationship cannot stand on the strength of one person. It takes two people who are both willing to make it work and last.

So what if the divorcee in question did his or her part well but the partner was unwilling to put in the work to make it last? Do you blame him or her? What if your action that was criticized is the same their partner took that eventually led to the demise of their marriage?

I feel I’ve said enough already, but let’s still analyze the last example. A jobless friend telling you you’re not doing your job well.

Feeling that way is like saying poor performance on the job is the only reason people lose their jobs. Big. Fat. Lie.

What if the company was suffering financially and had to let some workers go? Would that be solely that friend’s fault? Of course not!

So his losing his job is no proof that he isn’t an efficient worker. That’s just life. And dismissing his criticism on that account isn’t fair.

Criticism doesn’t always have to come from people whose condition has a negative bearing on yours.

Imagine your child criticizing you. Or your employee criticizing you. How would you take it?

People in position of authority or great responsibility are even supposed to deal with criticism better. Accepting criticism and working on it takes a great deal of humility.

In both cases, your employer and child are looking up to you as an exemplar. If you arrogantly pass up their criticism especially when it’s valid you’re closing the path for them to receive criticism from you in future.

What have I been saying in essence?

If you always ignore criticism because you feel it’s coming from the wrong source, you’re most definitely wrong. And you do not take criticism well.


  1. You resent the way criticism is given

Well, I must start by saying that I’m yet to hear perfect criticism. Either I’m too young to have been criticized so much that I eventually hear a perfect one or I’ve always been criticized by people who envy me. You think so? No, not really.

But, I don’t know “nice” criticism.

Okay. Let’s say I’m your boss. And I want to tell you I’ll fire you because you missed your deadline for the umpteenth time (you’ve actually always missed your deadlines several times, only this time, my company lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of you).

I call you to my office, and I start by telling you what a great addition you’ve been to my company, and how delighted I and my coworkers have been to have you around, but that you’re always fond of missing deadlines and that this time it’s cost my company a lot and I’m letting you go.

Definitely you’ll get defensive. Maybe “no sir, I don’t always miss deadlines” is what you can utter at first in your defense. But I’m not the least impressed. And I’m going to fire you.

Will my saying you’ve been a great addition to my team or you’ve been a hard worker matter when I told you I’m firing you because you always miss deadlines? I don’t think it will. You’re going to hurt. And you’re going to hurt badly.

Just an example. And just imaginary. But can you think of how many times you may have ignored or wanted to ignore criticism because the critic used abusive words on you? He may have called you dumb, foolish, stupid and all what-nots.

I’m not in support of the trolls out there or disrespectful people. But just because they’re disrespectful doesn’t mean their criticism isn’t valid. I believe you can only get perfect criticism from a perfect human. I’m sure you haven’t found one. I know you won’t find one.

If you always dismiss criticism because you feel it wasn’t given in the right manner, I’m afraid you don’t take criticism well.

What will you do?

Being criticized isn’t fun. But it is necessary for our overall growth and development. More than we may want to admit, it makes us stronger and better humans, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Yes, it refines us.

Always resenting criticism isn’t right. Let’s change that, shall we?



Did you enjoy reading this? Spare a moment to share it.

Do you need a freelance writer? Hire me.