First, just listen. Do not interrupt and do not ask questions yet. Give yourself a moment to digest the information and truly take it all in. The first response many of us have when we receive criticism is to become defensive. Listen to the criticism all the way through and it may teach you something. Even the most painful, hurtful comments have the ability to teach us something about ourselves. Just stay silent, shut down your defenses and take in what they have to say.
In order to grow, you need to fully understand the person criticizing you. Ask clarifying questions and maybe even ask for advice on how to improve. The person who is criticizing you clearly sees your flaws and may even see a way for you to ameliorate.
You don't have to agree with the criticism that is being told, but you must respond. If you agree with the criticism, a simple 'thank you' will do. If you do not agree, and you are positive it's just not your ego speaking, you can relay that to the criticizer without a harsh, angry tone. Simply respond by saying something along the lines of, "I didn't realize I came across that way, those where not my intentions. Thank you for sharing your opinion." Be courteous and gracious.
For many of us, first responses to criticism is to be defensive, and usual response is feeling insecure. Rather than hearing a helpful message, we think we are negatively being reminded of our flaws. Instead, focus on the truth about yourself and your value, then you will hear others opinions more accurately and grow from their wise input.
Understand Your Value
Lower the stake by understanding that your value is separate from your performance. Therefore, receiving constructive criticism is not a comment on who you are as a person, but how you can improve your own craft.
Now that you have heard the opinions of others and you understand their criticism, it is your turn to re-evaluate yourself. Is their criticism true and helpful? Do you believe that you can do some improving? It doesn't have to be on exactly what the person who criticized you said but make your own assessment on how you think you should improve.
Constructive criticism is meant to help you, so take it as such. If you feel the person is only being degrading, you don't have to agree, just nod and thank them for the input. Criticism can help you learn more about yourself, and you might be surprised by the potential you didn't know you had and take it to reach new goals.
Photograph by Nikoline