Dealing with Criticism as a Student

This article is directed at students of psychology dealing with criticism in a constructive manner. Although geared towards a specific field of study, anyone can implement the ideas expressed throughout. Everyone has to deal with criticism, but not everyone knows how to use it in a productive way.

As a psychologist you will be dealing with other people and their problems. Your patients can be sad, angry, anxious, distraught, or feeling an array of emotions, and it will be your duty to fix their affliction. If you are not able to handle their strong emotions, then you might want to reconsider your career choice. The same goes for any student of psychology who wants to work in any spectrum of this field.

A psychologist must be able to strictly control their emotions in order to help someone else with their own. Peers, teachers and coworkers will sometimes criticize your work, but you cannot take offense to this. The ability to shut out what you are feeling, and focus on your patient/work is the key to success in this field of practice.

Some people will criticize your work in order to give you suggestions indirectly. At least this is the way you should look at it. Criticism can be conducive to higher quality work on your behalf, and can also give you more motivation. Rather than interpreting someone’s criticism of you as a personal attack, whether it is constructive or not, you need to use this feedback in a productive manner.

Nobody is perfect, and we all need advice on our status or progress. Most of the time the most productive feedback is criticism, because it points out the things we could improve on, as opposed to praise, which only reinforces what we already know is up to par. states, “Praise rarely motivates you to improve.” This is true, because if the only feedback you receive from your peers, coworkers, or teachers is praise, regardless of the actual outcome, then you would have no idea of what you should do to improve.

There is no such thing as absolute perfection, especially when dealing with psychology, and yet perfection is what many people strive for. Criticism allows you to take “negative” feedback, and turn it into suggestions on how you can improve.

Most of the time the person criticizing is not meaning to offend you, but they may be so passionate about something that they come off as abrasive or rude. You must learn to accept this for what it is. Whether positive or negative, feedback is always a good thing to have.

Sometimes you will be working on a project or experiment, and you might forget some critical data, or miss a step in a specific process. Without anyone to notice these flaws, you would assume that your end result is quantitative and correct, even though it may not be. Having someone tell you what you are doing wrong is the best feedback you can get in these situations.

Nobody likes to be told that they did something wrong, or that they are misinformed about a particular subject. As a student you must learn to take this criticism and put it to work for you, not against you. Ask your teachers and peers what you have done wrong, or what you can improve upon. This will not only give you an advantage in class, but it will surely transfer with you into your field of practice.