top of page
  • Writer's picturepaulaholahan

Help me to deal with criticism

Updated: Sep 4, 2020

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to the development of an unhealthy state of things. If it is heeded in time, danger may be averted; if it is suppressed, a fatal distemper may develop."

[New Statesman interview, 7 January 1939]”

Winston Churchill

How do people upset themselves when been criticised?

Albert Ellis one of the founding fathers of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy argued that the reason why people reacted to their situations negatively was because of their belief system (Neenan M & Palmer S, 2012). He called this the ABC model:

  • Activating agent - What has happened?

  • Belief system - What are your thoughts? What are you saying to yourself?

  • Consequences - What behaviour do you do as a result?

For example, if your work has been criticised, because you deemed, you were not good enough. The consequence could be that you would stop trying and fail to meet your targets. However, Ellis’s explanation would challenge that it was not the person themselves that was being criticised but how the task was being performed. Therefore, by changing your belief system, you would react differently to the criticism, take responsibility and move on (Neenan M & Palmer S, 2012).

Moreover, you may tell yourself that you are being rejected, even though it is your work that is being rejected. What we tell ourselves can lead to problems such as depression, high levels of stress and anxiety.

How can I take control and admit responsibility?

By taking control of the problem and admitting responsibility by simply writing down a list of steps, that can be put into action to take back control. For example, one column ‘Blaming / Not taking responsibility’ and the other column ‘Taking Control’.

Not only is this a visual tool but it can give you a platform to make sure you are accountable to yourself and therefore the consequence would be that you would manage your workload, reduce your stress and meet your targets (Edgerton N & O’Riordan S, 2019).

In order to challenge and change these beliefs, it would be useful for you to practice with me (your coach) conversations you could have with your employer. For example, you have been given feedback that you never meet deadlines. You could respond with the following question: ‘I know I was late getting this project completed, could you specifically tell me another time when I have submitted work late?’

Wording the question like this, you are showing the employer that you are taking responsibility for your action and not being defensive. Accordingly, by posing a rational thinking question gives the employer to time to reflect and respond on their choice of word ‘never’. The more you practice this technique, you will increase your self-acceptance and deal with criticism in a less defensive way and take control over your actions (Neenan M & Dryden W, 2014).

Take care, Paula


Edgerton N & O’Riordan S Dr, 2019. Certificate in Coaching: Coaching Development Programme. Centre for Coaching: London

Neenan M & Palmer S, 2012. Cognitive Behavioural Coaching in Practice: An Evidence Based Approach. Routledge: Hove

Neenan M & Dryden W, 2014. Life Coaching: A cognitive behavioural approach. Routledge: Hove

Neenan M & Dryden W, 2014. Life Coaching: A cognitive behavioural approach, Chapter 3, Overcoming procrastination, pg. 38. Routledge: Hove


89 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page