Receiving Criticism Well

Avoid Appearing Defensive Or Arrogant


Emotional Growth

Enhance self-awareness and emotional intelligence, handling criticism constructively for growth.
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Gain practical communication skills through repeated practice, feedback, and coaching for real-world application

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Why Choose This Training?

More Than Just A Course Of Lectures

What gets in the way of developing and holding on to new communication skills are old habits of thinking and speaking. Even if the advice is very good the reason why it rarely sticks are the mental habits people inevitably revert to, especially under pressure.

Unlearning those old habits and internalising a more effective and lasting approach to communication needs more than a short course of lectures on how to do it.

What Makes This Training Stand Out?

What makes this training stand out is the exceptional support through one-to-one coaching sessions and continuous feedback. Changing behaviour is not an easy task as old habits are hard to break.

With a 40-year track record we can help you cultivate practical skills, and build your confidence to so you can successfully navigate real-world challenges, ensuring lasting behavioural improvements.


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"What I love about this course is that I didn't just learn about the topic, this course is about ME.  I'm confident I can reliably use my new skills, even when under pressure".

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"A lesson for life! The power of effective communication is incredible when one masters the skills "listening with empathy" and "speaking assertively"

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Course Summary

Training Objectives

This course is designed to help you develop your ability to take criticism without becoming defensive or arrogant. Receiving criticism can be incredibly difficult and it is normal to feel a bit overwhelmed when faced with negative feedback. Fortunately, there are ways to face critiques productively and improve our listening skills in difficult situations. On this training course you can learn the best strategies for receiving constructive feedback from different sources such as family members, colleagues, or bosses.

You'll learn how to identify defensiveness triggers and practice emotional intelligence so that you can gain insight into your own strengths rather than simply reacting negatively when criticised. You'll learn the importance of humility in conversations that involve uncomfortable topics - like accepting critical feedback.

You'll be able to identifying root psychological triggers such as fear and insecurity associated with defensiveness can help anticipate these reactions prior to a difficult conversation. You'll learn communication techniques that help distinguish between how input affects us and underlying intentions of those offering criticism.

You'll develop self-awareness, understanding others’ communication styles, assuming good intentions and adopting a growth mindset are all strategies for responding non-defensively when receiving criticism effectively.

You'll develop your active listening skills, and techniques like physically pausing during conversations, managing one’s own defences and impulses in order not react defensively once the focus shifts into our work performance specifically.

Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

You will learn a set of powerful emotional intelligence communication techniques so that you can manage difficult conversations, handle challenging situations, build relationships and set firm boundaries.

Transferable Skills

The goal of this training is to equip you with the tools they need to build strong, lasting relationships in your professional life, although because these skills are so transferable many clients report vast improvements in their personal relationships as well.

Develop Skills

This is a skills development rather than just a theoretical programme, so the emphasis throughout will be on you taking turn after turn, practising your skills, while receiving feedback and coaching about your effect on others.

Repeated Practice and Feedback

In your coaching sessions you will be helped to practise dealing with the kinds of situation you find challenging, again and again, until you are confident you can do it successfully.

Video Analysis

We'll combine practical, hands-on experience with video replay and analysis and discussion of the principles involved to help you gain both skills and understanding. Special attention is paid to your individual training needs, so you can practise your skills in real-life situations that you have to handle at work.

Sustained Change

That's why as well as your place in a small group, this training includes a generous amount of private and confidential one-to-one coaching sessions online, spread over several months, ensuring an exceptional level of support. This will ensure the changes you make are sustained over a longer period of time and any obstacles are overcome. Choose between online training available worldwide, or in-person face-to-face courses in the UK.

Course Dates and Price

For a list of upcoming course dates (for online coaching and face-to-face training), the locations of the next 3-day public courses in the UK and pricing Click here.

Free Initial Session

This initial coaching session serves as an introduction to the "Skills with People" course, allowing you to understand the course's relevance and effectiveness for your specific needs before committing to it.

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Assertiveness, Listening Skills & Emotional Intelligence Training

What Causes Defensiveness

It is important to identify the underlying triggers of feeling defensive and recognise that fear and insecurity play a major role.

Fear and insecurity

When it comes to receiving criticism, feeling insecure and afraid can be the root cause of defensiveness. When an individual is threatened or perceives that their sense of self-worth could be lowered by the feedback they're being given, they become defensive, expressing righteous indignation as well as playing the victim in order to protect themselves from any perceived attack.

These emotions and thoughts arise even if no personal attack has been made.

At its core, fear can prevent people from hearing objective ideas such as suggestions for improvement and understanding to receive constructive criticism and feedback – blocking out this kind of beneficial information due to a need for security and safety.

Triggers and anticipation

Defensiveness can be triggered by difficulty dealing with criticism or a person's negative reaction toward it. Individuals expecting to receive criticism are prone to become defensive before they've even heard what was said.

This anticipation of a perceived attack triggers an involuntary response that affects how the receiver will interpret any future communication, often leading to further wrong assumptions and defensiveness.

Anticipation is crucial for managing one’s own defences and impulses when receiving criticism. By recognising triggers from past experiences, people can anticipate their feelings before hearing something damaging or difficult and begin coming up with strategies on how to better respond positively instead of defensively.

For example, someone who knows that they tend to often feel defensive and overwhelmed when receiving critical feedback from their boss they could prepare themselves mentally ahead of time by pausing as soon as the conversation starts in order not react defensively once it shifts focus towards them specifically. Empathy also helps. If you can tune in on the other person’s wavelength and help them to articulate why something matters to them it takes the sting out of their feedback.

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Learn how to be both firm and fair

Differentiating Defensiveness and Setting Boundaries

The difference between defensiveness and setting boundaries can be subtle but immensely important. When receiving criticism, people may instinctively feel defensive or put up walls in order to protect themselves from the perceived attack.

It’s essential to understand that this behaviour is often a reaction to fear and insecurity rather than an intentional physical response itself.

Defensiveness is a coping strategy used when faced with feelings of guilt, failure or shame—basically, anything that triggers our self-esteem in negative ways. Defensive statements and behavior often involve shifting blame, labelling others as attackers and justifying one's behaviour by saying it was "the only option".

This type of attitude works against building healthy relationships since it does not allow for compromise or genuine discussion.

In contrast, setting clear boundaries while responding to criticism involves owning our actions and taking responsibility while also asserting our needs without attacking the other person’s opinion.

Our training focuses on words such as “I feel …” instead of making judgements, such as “You’re bad at …” which puts the focus back onto us instead of someone else who ultimately cannot control what we do anyway.

When receiving feedback from another person we need not take things personally; once again our training helps distinguish between how something impacts us AND whether there are any underlying intentions towards harm or offence associated with those behaviours so that ego won't influence decisions unnecessarily disproportionately.

Focusing on positives more frequently will encourage people around you both professionally and interpersonally while avoiding unhelpful reactions like defensiveness likewise builds healthier relationships overall in both at work place movement with colleagues as well domestically amongst family members alike - everyone can benefit from emotional intelligence practices!

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How aware are you of your effect on others?

Importance of Emotional Intelligence

Having a high emotional intelligence is extremely important when it comes to receiving criticism without appearing defensive or arrogant. Emotional intelligence involves being keenly aware of one’s feelings, learning how to manage and express them appropriately, as well as recognising the emotions of others and responding accordingly.

This self-awareness can provide an individual with the insight needed for handling criticism in a constructive mannerrather than defensively.

When receiving difficult feedback, having high emotional intelligence helps you stay calm and in control of your mind and body; instead of reacting emotionally to perceived attacks on yourself, you can take deep breaths or take into account any physical responses that could hinder communication.

People with strong emotional skills have been shown to recognise personal triggers related to defensiveness, fostering easier conversations by avoiding potential conflicts before they arise.

This awareness also allows successful people to differentiate between what is worth defending and what should be let go because it isn’t going anywhere constructive - leading them towards working processes in relationships or at work that are more efficient as no energy is wasted on useless arguments and quarrels.

Armed with these skillsets, allowing for active listening and empathetic understanding towards opposing viewpoints, followed by respectful debates serve those well who receive feedback. In critical situations these skills enable them both resilience during difficult moments, and also makes sure you don’t err too far away from the real actual issues people talk about.

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Now he listens before jumping to conclusions

Strategies to React to Criticism Without Defensiveness

There are several other ways to respond non-defensively when receiving criticism – noticing and identifying defensiveness, assuming good intentions, adopting a growth mindset and self-compassion.

Notice and identify defensiveness

When receiving criticism, it is important to be able to recognise any signs of defensiveness. Defensiveness is an effort to deflect and explain away behaviour that is being criticised instead of accepting responsibility. It often results from fear or insecurity which triggers defensive body language like crossed armsraised eyebrowsclenched fists or tightened jawlines. Phrases such as “That’s not true!”, “But you said….” or audible sighs are some of the other reactions indicative of getting defensive when faced with difficult feedback. Being aware about one's own defence mechanisms can help identify them and work towards avoiding a deflected conversation in future interactions.

Assume good intentions

When faced with criticism, it can be easy to become defensive and see the other person’s point of view as a personal attack. Assume good intentions as one of the best ways to remove this defence framework and effectively defend the truth for oneself in response.

Good intentions assume that regardless of any value judgments or perceived wrongdoings by either person, everyone involved approach a conversation with honest, positive intent. This helps people address criticisms without feeling attacked; instead, being open-minded enough to recognise different points of view allows them to calmly respond in order to resolve disagreements amicably.

By assuming good intentions when receiving critique from someone else, it is much easier for people to handle constructive criticism in a respectful manner while focusing on the actual issues at hand instead getting overwhelmed by their own emotions such as anger or hurt feelings.

Adopt a growth mindset

One of the key skills to being able to receive criticism without becoming defensive or arrogant is adopting a growth mindset. A growth mindset means that people believe in their own capacity for self-development.

It allows them to move forward instead of seeing yourself as stuck and unable to improve. People who adopt a growth mindset are willing to accept challenges, persevere during setbacks, learn from others’ successes and criticisms, and strive for success despite failure.

Research has shown that people with this kind of attitude are more likely to respond positively when faced with negative feedback from others because they choose not to become overwhelmed by it but focus on how they can use it grow and improve.

Exercise self-compassion

Self-compassion can help us cope with critical feedback by serving as our own supportive friend. Self-compassion involves understanding ourselves and our emotions, exercising self-kindness instead of self-judgment, accepting our imperfections, and having a sense of nonjudgemental concern for one’s suffering.

According to research, self-compassion is associated with greater wisdom and emotional intelligence which can be helpful in responding to criticism without being defensive or arrogant.

Additionally, studies have found that having this kind of compassion for oneself is linked to healthy eating and regular exercise which keep your heart strong; it also helps individuals manage their emotions effectively and cope with pressure better due to its calming effect on the body.

Handling Criticism in Work Relationships

When handling criticism in work relationships navigating criticism in a professional relationship can be tricky and often requires clear communication, mutual respect, and an open-mind.

Real-life examples

One example of handling criticism well can be seen in a situation when someone is constantly being criticised. This kind of environment can be emotionally taxing for the person receiving the criticism since it may often feel like an attack instead of constructive feedback, leading them to become defensive and resentful.

To practice healthy communication skills, it's important to recognise triggers and anticipate criticism with deep breaths or other calming physical responses before reacting harshly or defensively.

Take time out if necessary and calmly explain what was said that was hurtful while also recognising moments that weren’t intended to be negative at all. Taking responsibility, not blaming others, setting boundaries where necessary regarding how you want to be spoken too will go a long way towards establishing respectful relationships between all parties involved. On this training course we can show you how to do it.

Resolving disagreements

  • Acknowledge other person's point of view and feelings with some skilful empathy. It is important to validate their expressions and listen properly before responding during a disagreement.
  • Keep calm, take a deep breath, and try to empathise in disagreement solving process. Before replying to what the other person has said take into consideration the underlying emotion or intent behind it first.
  • Ask questions for clarification rather than focusing on argument presentation when discussing disagreements with others – create an environment where open communication can occur by avoiding phrases that will urge defensiveness.
  • Express yourself assertively without coming across as aggressive.  On this course we can show you exactly how to do this.
  • Explore alternative solutions together while avoiding blaming behaviour and recognising progress made - understand that agreeing isn't necessary but striving for mutual understanding should be your aim even if you don’t agree with one another yet. Especially if arguments arise due to criticism being received, focus away from assigning blame onto each other towards providing helpful advice instead as this could make way for more productive dialogues about how both parties can move forward collaboratively in bettering relationships or situation at hand.
  • Take time out away from each other if needed so both people have chance to reflect on changes they need to make when resolving contentious problems – give yourself time, space, perspective which helps prevent escalating any further conflicts by allowing you look back at all sides of issues objectively without personal judgment interfering interactions between people involved causing misunderstandings that factor negativity into conversations leading down paths best avoided altogether in order for disagreements resolution progressions keep pace harmoniously instead.

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People who feel understood are more receptive

Receiving Constructive Criticism at Work

Understanding the feedback, listening without judgement, evaluating impartially and responding positively are all key steps to handle criticism with decorum.

Understanding constructive criticism

Constructive criticism is a positive form of feedback which provides opportunities and ideas for improvement. It is received feedback and offers specific recommendations with an aim to help the receiver work towards self-improvement in an effective way without feeling personally attacked or criticised.

The purpose of constructive criticism is not to point out what went wrong, but rather guide the recipient of the critique towards resolving their flaws and making meaningful progress by using useful tools like questioning, reflecting, listening and learning. A problem sometimes arrises because the feedback is not always delivered skilfully, so sometimes it is communicated clumsily, which can make it difficult to take if someone on the receiving end feels unfairly blamed.

Seeking feedback from others helps one become more aware about how other people perceive them, thus providing insights into different perspectives on a situation. Constructive critiques should be delivered in considerate manner emphasising helpfulness rather than unpredictability or insecurity as this will help foster better relationships between those involved in order to facilitate development on both sides.

Listening actively and respectfully

When receiving criticism, it is essential to remain engaged and listen attentively to hear the other person’s perspective. Active listening is when you focus on understanding rather than responding while showing respect for what the other person has to say.

Chances are that if both sides can openly communicate and engage in an active conversation, reaching a mutual understanding becomes possible. When it comes to constructive criticism especially, actively engaging with the person giving feedback allows one to come up with solutions together as opposed to simply attacking the issue at hand or undermining their comments entirely.

Listening respectfully also communicates a willingness for self-improvement which can open doors for further development opportunities in personal growth and team building exercises respectively.

Evaluating feedback objectively

Understanding feedback objectively is critical for making meaningful improvements. Although it can be difficult to remain neutral and keep emotions out of the equation, taking the time to accurately assess feedback can help us get closer to achieving our goals in both our personal and professional lives. Here are some strategies for effectively evaluating feedback objectively:

  1. Consider the sourceEvaluating the qualifications and experience of a person before taking their feedback into consideration can help put things into perspective.
  2. Look for patterns: When multiple people offer similar feedback or observations, pay attention to common threads and enduring issues that need to be addressed immediately.
  3. Separate feelings from facts: Recognise how your emotions influence your interpretation of information when evaluating the feedback.
  4. Take ownership: Own your responses, behaviour, and performance without shifting blame as this will help you take responsibility for making real changes in your life.
  5. Keep an open mind: Be willing to seek solutions outside of your comfort zone while exploring different opinions and ideas from others who have been successful in certain areas of life or business.

Responding constructively and politely

  1. Take a deep breath – Taking a few moments for yourself can help you control your emotional reactions and slow down the conversation. This will give you space to process what has been said before replying.
  2. Notice your physical response – Notice possible defensive body language that could further contribute to how someone hears you during the feedback session (e.g., crossing arms). Try replacing it with more calming physical responses such as uncrossing your arms or taking up less room if seated.
  3. Listen actively – Hear out the person giving feedback without interruption while being mindful of an aggressive tone from either side of the conversation, keeping in mind that this may not be their intention but merely part of their communication style instead.
  4. Separate personal feelings from actual issues raised – Instead of feeling personally hurt by criticisms received, train yourself to learn distinguishing between emotions attached and actual points made. Take time after you've received the criticism for self-reflection rather than becoming stuck in a loop defending yourself pointlessly.
  5. Respond constructively – After hearing out the other’s perspective, try to acknowledge the truths contained within their critique. If you can it is helpful to express gratitude for their attention. Reserve requests for clarification on things that remain unclear until after initial comments have been addressed, that the conversation don’t feel obstructed prematurely. This will help to create a positive atmosphere, so you can go on to resolve any disagreements mroe easily.

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Learn to get taken more seriously

Encouraging Emotional Intelligence In Others

Teaching and supporting other people to better handle constructive criticism as well as their expectations and allowing for their emotional growth is a crucial step in encouraging a strong sense of understanding and resilience.

Teaching others to handle criticism

  1. Encourage open communication between people who give and receive criticism: Facilitate respectful dialogue between parties instead of encouraging a long period of silence after receiving feedback. Through open conversations, individuals can understand where the other party is coming from, providing them with a better understanding of the issues at hand.
  2. Model healthy responses to criticism: Demonstrate how to effectively respond to difficult feedback so that others are able learn through observation and example. Show composure and respect when somebody else is delivering constructive criticism or negative comments towards you — explaining why it isn’t personal but rather an evaluation in its entirety will further help create the right environment for learning lessons from criticism;
  3. Break down big criticisms into smaller points: Before discussing any given situation it might be beneficial if you break down larger criticisms into smaller more manageable topics which can then be discussed one by one allowing each topic room for discussion rather than having one large convoluted conversation about several things leading up confusion on exactly what was meant by what was said;
  4. Assign specific tasks: Make sure everyone knows their role in receiving or offering up difficulties with certain situations — assign beforehand clear roles when offering advice such as who should do what such as someone taking notes while another person asks questions, etc.;
  5. Provide resources : Explore different sources that could provide insight into resolving the situation like books , videos , online articles or previously experienced solutions mentor somebody may have dealt with before . This extra information gathered from outside sources provides fresh ideas which could lead both parties to eventually reach resolution faster.

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People used to be scared of him - no longer

Supporting Emotional Growth In Others

Providing emotional support and encouragement is one of the best ways to help others develop their emotional intelligence. By allowing them to practice recognising their responses to criticism, managing intense emotions, or being open-minded about feedback they disagree with, colleagues can learn how to become resilient in the face of criticism.

It can also help individuals spot their triggers or biases that could influence judgement, not letting defensive reactions get in the way of addressing any issues raised constructively.

For example, by helping someone recognise an angry reaction and pause for a few moments before responding with measured language rather than something aggressive allows all parties involved in a conversation to remain calm and constructive in tackling difficult topics.

Overcoming Arrogance in Receiving Criticism

Acknowledging arrogance and cultivating humility are essential to successfully receive constructive criticism without appearing boastful or egotistical.

Acknowledging arrogance

When it comes to receiving criticism without appearing defensive or arrogant, one of the most important aspects is being able to recognise and acknowledge arrogance. Arrogance is a trait where individuals believe they are better than they actually are.

It's often associated with egocentrism and a focus on oneself, as well as having excessive confidence that isn't always warranted. This trai can have negative consequences, such as alienating others who feel like their input or opinions don’t matter and aren't taken into consideration by those displaying arrogance.

It also means that arrogant people fail to see their own shortcomings, meaning there may be areas where improvements could be made but an individual won't realise them due to their ego-centric behaviour.

Cultivating humility

Humility is essential in order to receive feedback and how to receive criticism without appearing defensive or arrogant. Being humble involves self-reflection and self-awareness, being open to correction and criticism from others, and understanding your own strengths and weaknesses in a balanced way.

Having humility is recognising the truth about oneself and one’s limitations; it allows individual flexibility instead of having an inflexible attitude driven by pride or arrogance.

By cultivating humility, successful people who can recognise their mistakes more quickly, allowing them to reflect calmly on criticism they have received rather than letting it feed into negative emotions such as fear or insecurity that lead to defensiveness.

As Napoleon Bonaparte said “You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war” - taking a step back from any perceived attack allows us room for perspective before reacting with anger; this takes practice but has long lasting benefits for both the person receiving criticism as well as anyone else involved in the conversation who doesn't want conflict escalating due to ego battles.

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Now by involving people he takes them with him

The Importance of Resilience in Handling Criticism

Developing emotional resilience is essential for learning how to manage criticism in a positive way and move on with success.

Building emotional resilience

Emotional resilience is essential for individuals to successfully manage their emotions and handle criticism without appearing defensive or arrogant. It involves calming the mind after a negative experience, such as receiving criticism, in order to move forward constructively. Developing emotional resilience allows individuals to become stronger and learn from their mistakes; it helps them cope with daily life stresses more effectively and calmly.

  • Benefits of emotional resilience
  • How to build emotional resilience

Learning from experiences

When something doesn't go according to plan, it is important to take a step back and analyse what went wrong in that moment in order to become stronger and better in the future.

  1. Reflect - It helps to break down experiences into positives and negatives. Examine how each action taken led up the outcome, identify what went right or what can be improved upon for different results next time. Taking accountability of one's own actions is key here too!
  2. Evaluate – Make sure all conclusions are based on fact rather than assumption by interpreting feedback objectively and don’s prioritise self-criticism over other kinds of criticism as part of your evaluation process. Be honest about successes, mistakes, strengths & weaknesses that you have identified through reflection so that you can hone yourself effectively with clear understanding & awareness.
  3. Adapt - Apply newfound knowledge acquired from evaluating outcomes toward details when planning ahead for future attempts at achieving goals or tasks so as make adjustments necessary for overcoming challenges met before more efficiently this time round. Try new methods/approaches if appropriate but also maintain strict discipline when analysing progress retrospectively too!

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Learn ho to tune in to others and enable them to tune in to you


1. How can I receive criticism without appearing defensive or arrogant?

The first step to receiving criticism without being defensive, angry or arrogant is to stay calm and try not to take the feedback personally. Instead, be curious and imagine how you could use this information to achieve your goal.

2. What should I do if I feel hurt by negative feedback?

It's normal for any sort of constructive criticism, doubt or feedback to make us feel hurt, however it's important not dwell on these feelings as they will prevent you from moving forward in a positive way. Take a moment if needed and then return with an open mind and clear perspective.

3. Can I learn the right way of taking criticisms?

Yes! Learning how best to respond positively when receiving critique - rather than defensively will help create a much more productive conversation that allows both parties room for mutual understanding, growth, learning and success.. In addition, gaining better insights into yourself can help you identify areas that need improvement so you can use any potential advice provided constructively rather than negatively accepting failure through feeling hurt/insulted

4. What are some tips on how to receive criticism without becoming defensive or arrogant?

Try asking clarifying questions before responding; ensure directness specifically focusing on issues instead of individuals; remain mindful about body language; Amp up your Self-Awareness & Humility levels so as not anticipate praises vs assessing mistakes (gauging eye-contact among other techniques). Remember the ultimate motive behind giving corrections which supporting improvements.

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