How to Give and Take Criticism like a Man

by Brett & Kate McKay on November 4, 2008 · 60 comments

in Money & Career

Dealing with criticism is a skill every well-adjusted man should possess. We give and take criticism among our co-workers, our friends, and our family. Criticism is an important part of our personal self improvement, for it is other people who can point out mistakes and shortcomings that we can’t see because we lack objectivity. Unfortunately, many young men today don’t know how to offer and accept criticism like a man. Instead they handle criticism like little boys. When giving criticism, they opt only to give snide, cutting jabs that do nothing to improve the situation. When receiving criticism, they sulk, make excuses, and argue with the person criticizing them. Ask any teacher who has the nerve of giving a student a poor grade. Today’s students will cry and whine their way to a better one. Or worst of all, have their parents intervene. They simply don’t know how to respectfully accept criticism.

Because we all face situations every day that require us to give or take criticism, we provide the following guidelines on how to make the process more constructive.

How to Give Effective Criticism

Go in cool, calm, and collected. Before you begin to give criticism, make sure you have your emotions in check. This is particularly important if the person did something that really ticked you off. If you go in yelling and banging your fist on desks, you’ll probably get the problem fixed in the short term. However, when you don’t take the time to have a cool and reasoned discussion, you miss out on an opportunity to solve underlying problems.

Be specific. If there’s one thing you remember from this post, let it be this: be as specific as you can in your critiques. Don’t just tell the person, “This sucks,” or “This could be better.” Explain exactly why their work or action is subpar. A blanket criticism will put the person on the defensive, and they’ll never be able to correct their problem.

Criticize the action, not the person. Try to keep the person as separated from their mistakes as possible by criticizing their action and not them. It makes the criticism less hurtful and much more effective. So don’t say things like, “Jeez Louise you must be an idiot! Look at all these mistakes you made in this report!” Just because someone makes a mistake, that doesn’t make the person a pinhead. We all have bad days.

Be a diplomat. When giving your specific criticism, it sometimes helps to use diplomatic words. Our old friend Benjamin Franklin was a master at this (which is why he was probably such a successful diplomat). In his autobiography, Franklin said this about using diplomatic language in discussion:

When I advance anything that may possibly be disputed, [I never use] the words certainly, undoubtedly, or any others that give the air of positiveness to an opinion; but rather say, I conceive or apprehend a thing to be so and so; it appears to me, or I should think it so or so, for such and such reasons; or I imagine it to be so; or it is so, if I am not mistaken.

This can help take the sharp edge off of criticism. Sometimes, however, people need that edge to spur them to action. Use your discretion in deciding whether a harsher approach would be more appropriate.

Make specific suggestions for improvement. The goal of criticism should be to help someone make improvements. While specifically pointing out the problem is the first step to correction, if a person doesn’t know what they can do to improve, knowing their mistakes won’t help them one bit. Don’t just tell people what’s wrong with their work, give them specific suggestions on how they can improve it. The key word, once again, is “specific.”

Personalize your approach. Consider a person’s disposition when deciding how to approach the delivery of your criticism. In general, you can be harsher with a man than with a woman. Case in point: at my high school there was an assistant football coach that tore his players up and down for their mistakes. His philosophy was to “tear them down and then build them up.” He then became the girls basketball coach and continued the same uber-harsh tough love approach to coaching. The girls did not respond as the football players had; instead, they broke down and cried and became so nervous before practice that some would throw up. Of course, some women want to hear it like it is, and some dudes are dainty. So think about who you’re dealing with before you lay into them.

Point out positives. When criticizing someone, it’s always good to point out the positives in their work or actions as well. Two benefits exist from this exercise. First, it makes the criticism easier to swallow and reminds the person they’re not a complete screw up. Second, it shows the person what they’re doing right and gives them a reference point on which to base their future work. When beginning a conversations with someone, start with the compliments first. Then transition into your criticism by saying something like, “There is just one area I thought could use improvement……”

Follow up. Always, always make sure to follow up after giving constructive criticism. Your criticism won’t do any good if the person doesn’t put into practice your suggestions. Schedule a follow up with the person you’re criticizing. Say something like, “How about we talk to each other next week to see how your changes are coming and to answer any new questions you might have?” By letting the person know you’ll be following up with them, they’re more likely to get their butt in gear and make the needed corrections.

How to Take Criticism

Consider the source. You’re going to receive criticism from thousands of people in your lifetime. It’s important to remember that not all criticism is created equal. Determining the source of the criticism and the motivations behind it will help you know how to handle it. For example, Kate and I sometimes get criticism from people who read the Art of Manliness. Much of the criticism consists of “You are stupid” or “This is gay” or “I’m unsubscribing!” We just ignore this drivel. It’s not worth our time or energy to get upset that some random dude from the internet thinks we suck. However, if we get an email from a long time reader who has contributed to the comments on the blog, we’ll definitely consider their criticism.

If you think the source of your criticism isn’t genuinely interested helping your improve, take their criticism with a grain of salt. At the same time, be sure to honestly assess your critic’s point. Some people are too quick to write off criticism by saying, “They’re just jealous!” Maybe so, but be sure to thoughtfully evaluate the feedback before dismissing it.

Shut your trap and listen. Fight the urge to argue with the person or explain your mistake, and just listen to your critic. You’d be surprised what you can learn if you simply soak it in.

Don’t take it personally. Don’t take the criticism as a personal attack on you. Try to detach yourself as much as possible from your actions or work when receiving criticism so you can look at it objectively. This can be hard to do, particularly if you put a lot of time and effort into something. But trust me, if you make this a habit when receiving criticism, you’ll save yourself from a bruised ego.

Stay calm (even if the other person is being a complete d-bag). The goal in criticism is to keep as much of your emotions out of it as possible. Once you allow your passions to flare up, any hope of making the criticism constructive goes flying out the window. If your critic is being a complete jerk, staying calm can be hard to do. But be the better man. Let the other person do all their ranting and raving, while you sit there looking cool as a cucumber. When they’re done, kill them with kindness. Let them know you understand their concern and thank them for taking the time for bringing it to your attention.

Ask clarifying questions. Make sure you’re on the same page with your critic by asking clarifying questions. Clarifying questions are particularly important if your critic is giving vague or ambiguous criticism. For example, if your critic tells you your report isn’t clear, ask them where things start to get murky and suggestions on how it can be improved. By asking questions, you create dialogue between you and your critic, which in turns fosters co-operation and an atmosphere for mutual improvement.

Take ownership of your mistake. When someone brings a legitimate mistake to your attention, don’t get on the defensive and start making excuses for it. Take responsibility for your actions. Many young men today don’t want to own up to their mistakes. They’re always putting the blame on something or someone else. These men will be stuck in eternal mediocrity because they will never accept their need for improvement. While denying your mistakes can keep the heat off for a moment, it will greatly impede your personal progress in the long run.

Change your perspective on criticism. Instead of seeing criticism as humiliating or embarrassing, view it as an opportunity to improve yourself. Winston Churchill had this to say about criticism:

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

Instead of avoiding criticism, seek for opportunities to be criticized. You’ll find that getting feedback from an outside source will stretch your talents and abilities.

Thank your critic (even when they handed your butt to you). Always thank your critic. This can be difficult. No one seriously wants to say, “Thanks for showing me that I was wrong!” But swallow your pride and sincerely thank your critic. They took the time to sit down with you and point out areas where you can improve. The least you can do is say thanks.

Take action and follow up. After you’ve received your criticism, take action immediately. After you’ve taken action, make sure to follow up with your critic and let them know how you’ve rectified the problem. This shows that you actually listened to the criticism and respected what the person had to say.

Alright. Now it’s your turn. What suggestions do you have on taking or giving criticism like a man? Drop a line in the comment box.

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dimitar Nikolov November 5, 2008 at 1:14 am

Sometimes the problem’s not taking criticism, but responding to criticism. Understanding what other people think about you is vital, however, without being able to respond to the positive or negative things, you can attract a lot of negative persons in your everyday life. Any thoughts on that?

2 brain November 5, 2008 at 4:01 am


:) just kidding one of the best one I’ve read ! congrats!

3 Chad November 5, 2008 at 4:35 am

Great article. I always make sure to process criticisms I receive with close friends who know me well. This helps me separate the wheat from the chaff and know what criticisms to embrace and which one’s I can shelve. You cannot really know yourself well if you don’t know how to hear and receive constructive criticism.

4 Kristiyan November 5, 2008 at 5:16 am

Essential part of giving criticism is not to shoot your stand rapid fast and leave no breath for the other to respond. According to a study I cannot quote, the human brain can only listen open-minded for the first 2 minutes, after that it switches to analytical mode. There is a great chance that after the two minutes of criticism your party won’t listen anymore but will shut down their ears and tune into automatic mode. Your criticism will have no effect if you prolong it for too long. Make it short, summarize the actual important points, share them with your target, and then listen in for their reaction. Give them a moment to consider what you are saying, and than ask you questions.

Or also just as well listen carefully to what they respond to your criticism, maybe you are not in the right position and your point is being questioned. Consider what the other has to say in return to your critics and determine if they are actually right, and if you may in fact be wrong this time.

Also pausing to listen to the other might give you a hint which direction you should direct the conversation as the other party will themselves show you where are the weak spots that actually need improving, so you can pinpoint your advices more precisely.

5 Scott November 5, 2008 at 5:43 am

In school they told us to use a “feedback sandwich” – say something nice, say something critical, say something nice. The “compliments” always sounded forced or contrived, and only served to prolong the agony. I say get it over with in as few words as possible and still make your point. Then come back with glowing compliments when the problem has been fixed.

6 Bryan November 5, 2008 at 6:41 am

Odd, just yesterday I just read How to Win Friends and Influence People from cover to cover. This was a good blog with a lot of important suggestions for dealing with criticism. One thing I thought you might of wanted to mention was the idea that everyone wants to feel important, how to use it, and how it relates to how people deal with criticism.

7 Santa November 5, 2008 at 7:19 am

This is why I love watching Chef Gordon Ramsay on both his television shows, Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen. The man knows how to give criticism and he compliments good work when it has been well deserved. I think every man should have to learn to deal with a Chef Ramsay personality type at one point or another in their life. It will make them stronger men.

8 Tom Kregenbild November 5, 2008 at 10:30 am

First of all I’m so happy I have found this site – it just amazes me every time.

Second of all I think that the most impotent part in taking the criticism is listening and giving the person on the other side the full attention he deserves.

9 Khürt November 5, 2008 at 11:31 am

Good stuff. Seek first to understand.

10 Bill November 5, 2008 at 11:41 am

I respectfully disagree on Hell’s Kitchen. Ramsay basically gets paid to berate the contestants. I don’t consider humiliating your subordinates on national television to be manly behavior. That said, I don’t pity those folks, though, since they knew what they were getting into.

I do agree with you, however, that learning how to deal with that type of d-bag will make someone stronger.

11 Jack November 5, 2008 at 1:42 pm

I kind like the ‘positive, negative, positive’ in the work environment. Not much different that what is written here. Its simple. Start off positive, then let them know what isn’t up to par, and the last positive. Which is kinda like a courtesy encourage good growth and block out bad vibes.

12 Oracle989 November 5, 2008 at 2:10 pm

This is truly an excellent piece. Too many people today take everything personal or write everything off. The world would be much better if more people read this blog.

13 Ian November 5, 2008 at 2:35 pm

@Dimitar Nikolov: Yes. Responding after receiving criticism is the difficult part.

I believe that we all get better with criticism as we age. I have found that I value the feedback much more now than in the past. While I used to think that my work was the epitome of… well, my work. I now want all the input I can get. Part of that comes from developing and implementing systems over the years and needing user input. Now I want to know what it is that people really want in order to meet as many needs as possible.

As a man, it is important to carry yourself with grace and poise. Accepting criticism well is a big part of being a graceful, respectable individual. Good article.

14 Dave November 5, 2008 at 2:52 pm

@Dimitar Nikolov
Maybe most criticism that we get requires no response at all (except to ‘kill with kindness’). For me, deciding what to do with criticism depends a lot more on the source of the criticism than the content. If the critic is someone I don’t know who (to my knowledge) has accomplished little in life that I want to achieve (ie no track record), then his criticism counts for little.
If the critic is a person that I know and respect and who has my interests in mind(perhaps a member of my board of directors? Thx Cameron Schaeffer), OR they have achieved a lot in a field that I want to do well in (ie a great track record), then i’ll probably put into practice most or all of what they suggest, or at least thank them and try as much as possible to meet again and get (or keep) a dialogue going on that particular issue.
A person has to earn the right to criticise you (either through a strong relationship, or an outstanding track record in your field), and the more personal the criticism, the more they have to do to earn the right to give it.

15 William Hoven November 5, 2008 at 3:09 pm

This is a good lesson for any Fire Officer. I am a Lt. on a Volunteer Fire Dept, and this is something all of us can use.

16 Karl November 5, 2008 at 3:12 pm

I have to agree with you, unfortunately Gordon Ramsay has become more well known for swearing ravingly at people than for the quality of his restaurants. I’ sure the food in his restaurants is top quality but he seems “I don’t know if it is really the case..” to spend more time in the lime light than behind the stove doing hes “actual ” job…

17 Chris November 5, 2008 at 3:13 pm

I’ve never been taught how to give and receive criticism. I had to learn through experience. Thank you very much for writing this article.

18 Dennis November 5, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Where I work we have a two fold approach to coaching peers and subordinates and it helps frame out the giving and taking of criticism. The first approach is to coach behavior that needs improvement. To do that we use a “what, what, why” approach. We describe what we observed, followed by what the standard is and why the standard is in place. To reinforce positive behavior, which is essential to “earn the right to be heard” on other things like critiquing areas of improvement, I use a “what, why” approach. Describe what you observed that worked well and why it was great. Especially important is use “you” statements on positive reinforcement like “You did an awesome job handling that customer. You handled their requests as fast as anyone could.” And use “I” statements when offering critique for improvement such as “I saw you give free product to that customer. The standard is to charge customers because we have to remain profitable as a company.”

19 Chris November 5, 2008 at 4:43 pm

I live with someone who doesn’t take criticism well (gets defensive), so this is very helpful, mostly in the “Giving Criticism” part, but the “Getting” part is also important.


20 Sachin November 6, 2008 at 1:08 am

“Take ownership of your mistake” ..this I think should be no.1 on priority list because in our general day to day lives I think this is the most needed one.

21 Vaclav November 6, 2008 at 2:35 am

Hey guys, great article – I haven’t read anything so interesting in a logn time; however, there is one thing I would like you to consider and that is: Is it really hard to write your articles and justify them afterwards, or you’re doing it on purpose? – because in my humble experience, this is the least one can do to improve the visual side of the text.
Thanks again for the article and good luck

22 Tom November 6, 2008 at 3:04 am

Excellent article!

One thing that I think is important (and I have not seen it mentioned in the discussion or article) is the consideration of place. If you can select the place, try to do it away from any other subordinates or peers. Public humiliation is generally not constructive. EVERYONE likes to ‘save face’ and if you can pull the person out of the situation criticism is often taken a little better.

It is amazing how something as simple as taking ownership of mistakes can actually move you along in the world, and indeed with your boss. So simple, yet so hard to do at times, but when you do it sends an instant message: I am a real man. It is sad that personal responsibility is so lacking that actually having it can distinguish you from the crowd.

Criticism without an action plan is just plain ol’ complaining.

I love this blog! Keep up the great work!

23 Grant November 6, 2008 at 5:21 am

Good article.
Additional supportive concepts include: don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought; think more highly of others than you do yourself; submit your opinions to those of others; and love your neighbor as yourself.

24 Aryeh November 6, 2008 at 7:16 am

Great article!

Another way to make the criticism more palatable is to let the other person know that I’m not perfect and make mistakes, even the same mistakes as well. Something like “I’ve done that before, here’s how I corrected it”. It puts me and the person I’m criticising on the same “side”. We’re both improving.

25 jared November 6, 2008 at 9:03 am

awesome. awesome. awesome.

26 Chuck November 6, 2008 at 9:06 am

Hey – great advice. Based on my fantasy league this year, there’s a lesson in how to win and lose like a man that needs to be done, as well.

27 James November 6, 2008 at 10:40 am

What a great article! Especially for any professional who works with people daily.

I did want to add a note concerning the technological side of work. Try not to send criticism via text or email. These are WAY to easily misconstrued. Without things like body language, voice tone, etc. there are loads of ways to misinterpret what someone is really saying. I have often thought my boss was angry at me when she really is just a busy person who doesn’t have time to email long messages (which made them sound snippity).

If you must send criticism in message form what I have found works is to reread it multiple times and look to see if it can be taken the wrong way. That can save a lot of hard feelings later.

28 Tom November 6, 2008 at 2:23 pm

Amen to that James! I have found that people dispensing criticism over email often ‘fire and forget’ not realizing that their actions are really just engendering ill will instead of being useful at all.

29 Marlon November 6, 2008 at 4:11 pm

Sometimes I get criticized and I genuinely disagree with the criticism, even though I look at it open-mindedly and all. When I voice my disagreement, I look like an asshole who can’t take criticism, how should I deal with this situation?

30 Aaron November 6, 2008 at 8:38 pm

(Just a quote that I would like to share that speaks in a similar tone to your article.)

7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable
By David Wong

“And none of it mattered, because none of those people knew me well enough to really hit the target. I’ve been insulted lots, but I’ve been criticized very little. And don’t ever confuse the two. An insult is just someone who hates you making a noise to indicate their hatred. A barking dog. Criticism is someone trying to help you, by telling you something about yourself that you were a little too comfortable not knowing.”

Thank you for another insightful article.

31 rubono November 8, 2008 at 4:50 pm

the “brain” said it well. great article and site. much more of this needed, not just for others, but ourselves.

32 JIm Bianchi November 15, 2008 at 10:41 am

I saw the Chef the first time the other night. My wife begged me to watch it with her. She said I’d like this guy. I did. Although, most people TODAY like to watch others being berated, they are too weak emotionally to handle it themselves. In retrospect I always liked the teacher best that challenged my smugness, and self-conceit. At my job, it was the boss that I knew valued me and my work who could get away with saying anything to me. I think taking criticism and welcoming it comes by truly valuing yourself apart from what you do.

33 Jared November 17, 2008 at 9:25 am


Dear Dave. You responded to the article by outlining the merits of who you would accept criticism from.

This seems so backwards im actually offended.

Who are you to be able to judge people based on their ‘track record’. And why did u need to say that phrase twice in your response? It reminds me of some sort of low grade, name dropping tactic. There are no reputations online. Does a ‘track record’ determine a persons worth? What about young people or people from a more humbling social situation? Do these people hold no value?

I believe you are an ass.

It sounds as though you believe the value of criticism or communication to be in the source rather than the message. You say that if you don’t know the person and if they don’t have a good ‘track record’, then his criticism counts for little. Do you walk through life with your eyes closed and your ears shut? Value in life comes from all angles and sources. It is this knowledge that truly seperates the achievers from people who merely think they know something.

Lastly, since when do you need to earn the right to criticize? Do you think your more important than everyone else? Are people lucky to hold your audience? Over 300 hundred years ago Voltaire said that even though he doesn’t agree with what you may say, he would defend to the death your right to say it. His thoughts were the basis of the French and later the American revolution. Free speech and responsible government are the foundations of todays democratic societies and without open criticism, these qualities would not exist.

If the world ran by your clock, i think we would run the risk of choking on inflated egos and a thick cover of pretentiousness. Grow a sack and reply you clown.

34 anti-Dave November 17, 2008 at 9:29 am

Dear Dave. You responded to the article by outlining the merits of who you would accept criticism from.

This seems so backwards im actually offended.

Who are you to be able to judge people based on their ‘track record’. And why did u need to say that phrase twice in your response? It reminds me of some sort of low grade, name dropping tactic. There are no reputations online. Does a ‘track record’ determine a persons worth? What about young people or people from a more humbling social situation? Do these people hold no value?

I believe you are an ass.

It sounds as though you believe the value of criticism or communication to be in the source rather than the message. You say that if you don’t know the person and if they don’t have a good ‘track record’, then his criticism counts for little. Do you walk through life with your eyes closed and your ears shut? Value in life comes from all angles and sources. It is this knowledge that truly seperates the achievers from people who merely think they know something.

Lastly, since when do you need to earn the right to criticize? Do you think your more important than everyone else? Are people lucky to hold your audience? Over 300 hundred years ago Voltaire said that even though he doesn’t agree with what you may say, he would defend to the death your right to say it. His thoughts were the basis of the French and later the American revolution. Free speech and responsible government are the foundations of todays democratic societies and without open criticism, these qualities would not exist.

If the world ran by your clock, i think we would run the risk of choking on inflated egos and a thick cover of pretentiousness. Grow a sack and reply you clown.

35 Srijan December 8, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Nice and practical tips. I think that in the second part more has been talked about on how to take a positive criticism, which is rare. It would be good if you could talk something more about responding to a harsh and callous criticism.

36 Frank December 12, 2008 at 9:22 am

One trick I found when dealing with workplace criticism from folks who are not really out to help you, but instead pulling political games. Take out a pad of paper and start writing while they’re talking.

Write down every point. You can go back to your office or desk and crumble up the piece of paper, but it does two things.
1. It makes the other person think you’re really taking it seriously. Maybe you’re not, but that’s not the point.
2. It keeps you too busy to start yelling back. It keeps emotions in check by keeping you analytical rather than emotional.

37 Drew December 23, 2008 at 11:02 pm

I have a question and I hope this does not deviate too far from the topic.

But I was wondering, what about in the case that there’s an argument involving you and someone else, but then you realize that the person wants to accuse you of something that you didn’t do when it was actually their fault.

I’m also curious about other prickly situations such as: whenever someone is (or attempting to) blackmail you.

Thank you

38 Bob December 28, 2008 at 7:39 pm

Great article! A must read for young men and older men alike.


39 Hard_Wiggles January 6, 2009 at 8:12 am

I think the problem is there’s not enough confrontation. People don’t have the balls to speak their minds anymore, but will try and make their points indirectly or by speaking behind someone’s back with hopes that it gets to them. “He said, she said”.

40 Jaymz January 11, 2009 at 10:14 am

I struggle with confrontation/criticism, but it is because I was constantly bullied from grades three through eleven at home and at school. I learned to fear it because the reason for it was to torment and destroy me, personally. It’s hard to reframe it after spending so many of my most formative years getting beaten down, but it’s something I’ve put particular focus on lately. To be of any success, this is something I need to be able to do.

41 James January 29, 2009 at 3:48 am

Just pray man just pray…

42 Julio Iglesias March 2, 2009 at 1:16 pm

The important thing to remember when giving criticism is to always be constructive and personal – don’t just tell what they need to improve, but give them ideas how and commit (and follow through) to help them, be it one-on-one, by paying for training, etc.

And most of all, to have it mean anything, the receiver needs to respect you. For the giver, there’s shooting straight, not in and of itself a always a bad thing depending on who is being criticized, and then there’s berating, losing your temper, and making the other person feel stupid in how yu respond and in your tone of voice, both in criticizing and in general. This Gordon Ramsay crap is a joke – anyone who would act like that or subject themself to that needs to develop self respect.

I will never accept the criticism of someone I don’t respect – period. I may start to think it’s valid, but I won’t act on it – I’ll wait to hear it from someone whom I do respect – that way I know it’s coming from the right motives. To do so, or worse, be the person that criticizes as such, is unmanly in every sense of the word.

43 Frank Williams March 30, 2009 at 7:06 pm

I thought this was a great article, and was informative as it was funny.

44 Matty April 13, 2009 at 3:25 pm

This article is a little long for me to get my head round, although the feedback sounds like its great.

I have always found I don’t take critism well, I never argue I just mull over it for weeks and get depressed and hope I forget.

Myself and my flatemate/friend have just come back from having a couple of drinks (not loads, but a few to be tipsy anyway he critised me over part of my personality. Over something he thinks I do and although he said it doesn’t bother him too much (well it obviously does if he mentioned it) I hate that fact he said that, I didn’t argue, but now I sit here upset thinking about it and wish he didn’t think that of me, wether is true or not, id hope its not true.

So now I can’t help thinking about how he percieves a part of me that I don’t like, Im really really really really depressed about it and don’t know what to do.

45 Benjamin September 28, 2009 at 5:28 pm

The Gordon Ramsay comment about weather or not he is a good cook or chef is an un educated comment. Ramsay has enough michelin stars, even some 3 stars in there, that proves his skills as a Chef. He is fast, energetic and pationate about food. He is also an opportunist, Chefs work so fu*&ing hard, if you’ve never working in a high end restaurant then you will never know what its like. Fast pased, pressise work, varying temperatures, a perfect environment for tempers to flair. Thats the reality of the world behind your nice little quiet romantic table. So Gordon Ramsay takes the opportunity to make millions on tv shows! You wouldn’t? He’s still a great Chef, and still cooks. On his show he is a character. In real life he is a very very hard working chef who busted his ass off under Marco-Pierre White for many years. He’s worked more hours in his mid 30′s than most people will work in their entire carrers. That is not an exageration. He’s done his time, got his skills, now he’s doing his tv thing, doesn’t take anything away for what he’s accomplished and the skills he has.

46 B. Franklin January 8, 2010 at 10:54 am

@ Dave-Hater,

I read Dave’s statements objectively and I believe he has a firm point.

I believe that you have demonstrated yourself to be of low class – and perhaps stature, as well.

Your attack on his person, rather than his idea is a perfect example of what he wrote – when you are a known loser (as you’ve proven yourself to be) there’s no point listening at all to criticisms or compliments for that matter.

Now if you took the time and thought about how Voltaire might have responded you might have put yourself into a better light and thus got your point across. Which is a subject in itself…

Why is it so important for you to impose your view? How does that make you feel better? Those answers define the type of man you are.

47 D.K. January 9, 2010 at 6:38 pm

In the service they teach you the “feel-good sandwich” when you take someone aside (criticize in private, praise in public). You start as you mention with something positive about the individual, then you bring up the issue/complaint and then you finish with another positive comment.

48 Dr. Rod Berger January 12, 2010 at 12:04 pm

What a great review of how to handle criticism and dearly needed. We Normal Males can have fragile egos and knowing how to deal with criticism goes along way towards positive role modeling. I will post a new submission tomorrow about the global issue of getting fired and rebounding from one of the most significant “criticisms” of being told we’re not good enough and accessing our friends for support. Glad others are on this topic as well. Thanks!
Dr. Rod

49 James Jenneman December 21, 2012 at 11:18 am

One caveat: Watch it with the “clarifying questions” when receiving feedback. Identically worded questions can come across as defensive or sincere depending on inflection. To my mind, defensiveness is the worst of the human characteristics: It indicates a lack of desire to change an improve.

50 Landon February 20, 2013 at 12:17 am

How directly does this apply to personal issues? I only say this because some mistakes may not be able to immediately address, such as acknowledging mommy/daddy problems.

51 shallangwa March 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm

the truth most people always want to be right or think they doing the right thing but criticism helps you see your mistakes for better improvement

52 Andrae May 2, 2013 at 7:07 pm

You know, this article really speaks to me. I will definitely take this advice and apply to my life from now on.

53 Aubrey July 21, 2013 at 8:39 pm

This was an excellent article. I particularly like (not really like, but will find useful :-) the part about following up with a criticism after you have made some change or improvement. I can actually use that advice this week at work.

54 TJ July 30, 2013 at 12:23 am

When giving criticism, only talk about what you see – don’t try to read people’s minds!

Wrong: “You’re not trying!”
Right: “I see you doing ______________, but it might help you more to do __________________.”

55 porkchop October 16, 2013 at 2:13 pm

excellent article, much of which confirm the greatest learning of my first 50 years living: there are just too many ways to communicate badly.
the best instruction I’ve had in giving criticism is from contemplating the results of criticism I’ve received: more often than not I have followed the suggested course in spite of the presentation, not because of it.
understanding this, I try to tread gently when commenting on the foibles of others: not merely speaking as I wish to be spoken to, but rather speaking as the other wishes to be spoken to.

56 B October 21, 2013 at 4:42 am


I have a question.

Do you think most men are really not capable of taking criticism, especially if it comes from a woman?

I am a business leader and I am getting to the point of only hiring women because men are unable to take any kind of negative feedback from me. I always try to make it clear and do it with a sense that I care for the person and I really deeply do.

My sense of men is that they get very emotional when they are criticized, like there is an unbearable humiliation that lurks below that they just don’t want to feel. Then a screaming match easily ensues which leaves me feeling shaken and vulnerable. It is scary having a man scream back at you just because you suggested that he was operating in crisis mode rather than taking the next step every day.

I have noticed that men due to their physical strength have a way of scaring me with violence. I am not taking about being hit but rather just violent shouting. It makes me shut up and back down out of fear.

Any advice?


57 Brunette November 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm


All I can offer you is another woman’s perspective on your issue, which is that many men perceive any criticism from a woman (especially one wielding authority over them in some fashion) as her taking on a mother role, which automatically puts him in the role of powerless little boy.
I’m not saying they reason it out that way, but that it’s more of a kneejerk emotional response in a man who isn’t secure in his manhood. Unfortunately, in our current, emasculated, PC-driven society, that’s a lot of men.
Since you can’t fix other people, the only solution is to make sure that you aren’t projecting an attitude that would encourage a man to feel that way, and/or hire women.

Good luck.

58 B January 20, 2014 at 7:58 am

thanks Brunette, I hope the silent ones are thinking about it!

59 Kyle March 11, 2014 at 5:48 pm

I once read on another forum about giving constructive criticism and one technique is the *Sandwich* technique about giving two pieces of praise with the criticism in the middle so they will likely read what you actually have to say.

At least it will force them to think for a moment as just telling them what they did wrong and how to fix it in most communities is still considered rude and flaming.

You can even get banned if you do it on some forums or to some youtube owners who just want emotionally pleasing comments.

60 dave April 12, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Never had a problem giving criticism. I can be abusive or constructive with equal ease. I just can’t take it well. Wether constructive or destructive I take it all badly & quit what ever iam trying soon after. Pathetic I know. That’s just the way I am. I’ll take your advice and see if I can improve my self. Thanks for the article.

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