Employee Coaching · Leadership

Respond to Criticism Intelligently

Minimize Overly Emotional Responses

Goggia training 8 orange light bulb

Listen to the podcast episode related to this article:


Today I am sharing three response options when you are faced with criticism. Criticism can take us off guard and you might experience a range of emotions in a very short period of time. By memorizing these three response options, you’ll have a tool you can use even in those moments when you might feel blindsided or filled with dread.

Okay, get ready: this tool is based on agreement. That’s right, agreeing with the criticism and even learning from it. The three different types of agreement are:

1.       Clarifying agreement

2.       Assertive agreement

3.       Neutral agreement

1.       With clarifying agreement you seek more information

2.       With assertive agreement you recognize the issue yourself and admit to whatever obstacle is creating an unproductive behavior.

3.       With neutral agreement, you aren’t arguing or justifying. You find the part of the criticism you can agree with from the other person’s point of view and suggest an immediate fix for the perceived problem.

Let me provide some examples.

Your supervisor or manager says to you, “You’ve got to stop being rude to customers!”

1.       Clarifying agreement: Show respect to customers is important to me. What did I say that you thought was rude?

2.       Assertive agreement: You’re right, I’ve been going through a tough time and I haven’t been feeling very patient lately.

3.       Neutral agreement: It’s possible my service level is slipping. Thank you for pointing it out. I’ll pay more attention. 

Let’s use another example. Someone says to you, “You were late to work again.”

1.       Clarifying agreement: Getting to work on time is important. Just to be sure we’re on the same page, how many times do you think I’ve been late?

2.       Assertive agreement: You’re right, struggling with time in the morning is a huge issue for me. I’m always trying to get too many things done before I leave for work.

3.       Neutral agreement: I haven’t been getting to my work station as quickly as possible. I’ll be sure to focus on that before I get involved with other things.

Okay, let’s take a look at one more example:

Someone says to you, “You haven’t been following the dress code.”

1.       What would you say for Clarifying agreement?

I’m not sure I understand. How have my clothes been inappropriate?

2.       What would you say for Assertive agreement?

You’re right, I need to do laundry and I haven’t been wearing my typical work clothes this week.

3.       What would you say for Neutral agreement?

“I have been pretty casual and could dress more professionally.

Got it?

4.       Clarifying agreement for when you aren’t sure what the person is talking about and you need more information.

5.       Assertive agreement for when you know you were hoping no one was noticing your behavior and it turns out you weren’t flying as low below the radar as you thought.

6.       Neutral agreement for when you aren’t sure you agree 100%, but you are open minded about the topic and willing to make an effort.

Sponsored by: LIVE IT! Mastering Positive Attitude Habits

Get Catherine Goggia’s book, “LIVE IT! Mastering Positive Attitude Habits, 15 Practical Tips for Managing Your Mindset,” on Amazon:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s