1. Listen well.
Don't interrupt your boss or colleague who's commenting on your performance or work because you still don't know the gist of what they're saying and their suggestions. You'd be rude and appear uncritical, close-minded, and unprofessional if you interrupted.
More importantly, figure out the following:
1. If what you're hearing is fact or opinion, since that will inform your response.
2. If the criticism is accurate, because you do have to take responsibility of your shortcomings or failures and answer to them.
3. The intention behind the criticism. It's possible that the one giving you negative feedback is doing it to play with your head—to psyche you out and make you feel incompetent maybe because she doesn't like you, or to test your willpower. If your superior wants to psyche you out, you know better than to take her words seriously. If you think she's testing your strength and determination, step up to the challenge.
2. Don't be defensive.
If what's being said is factually incorrect, keep quiet. If it's right, keep quiet too. Remember to let your critic finish before you respond, because if you don't you might just blow the whole thing up to a heated debate.
In the meantime, while you're listening, you can clarify the points being said so you guys are on the same page, which is important in work. Don't be sarcastic when you do this. You can even ask for proof (examples) to strengthen that person's feedback.
3. Don't take the feedback personally.
It's your performance or work that's being examined, not you as a person. Okay, so your boss might have blurted that you're stupid. Still, don't take it personally because that was said in the heat of the moment and, more importantly, you risk coming off as ungraceful or something worse especially when you retaliate. (You'll most likely regret it when your career takes a turn for the worst.)
4. Remember that you need it to improve.
Someone just has to let you know how you're doing. You need your boss to tell you you're doing a good job so you can keep doing what you're doing, just as you need her to tell you could be better, that your damage control response was wrong and what you should do in the future.
5. Give yourself time to absorb the criticism.
Responding to criticism when your impulse is to be defensive or be in denial isn't wise. Tell your boss you appreciate the feedback; thank her. Tell her you'll take everything in, think about all that's been said, then get back to her. Only then can you think of the best way to respond—and most probably your response will be objective and no longer impassioned. This will show your superior you're serious about your job and very critical and collected.
6. Correct your performance.
In the end, this is what's expected of you. You might not agree with the course of action, and that should be aired out properly so a better one can be made or you'll get an explanation behind what you're being told to do.
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