34 Inspiring Quotes on Criticism (and How to Handle It)

It starts with just a few words coming out of someone else’s mouth.

But as they pour out you may start to feel stupid or perhaps rejected and like you’re getting smaller.

Being criticized can be a tough thing to handle (even though it sometimes can be very useful to help you grow or improve something you do).

So this week I’d like to share 34 of my favorite timeless thoughts from the past 2500 years about how to not only receive criticism but also what to think about once or twice before deciding to give it.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”
– Dale Carnegie

“The pleasure of criticizing takes away from us the pleasure of being moved by some very fine things.”
– Jean de La Bruyère

“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
– Aristotle

34 Inspiring Quotes on Criticism (and How to Handle It)

You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one.”
– John Wooden

“Criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting.”
– Emmet Fox

“When virtues are pointed out first, flaws seem less insurmountable.”
– Judith Martin

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”
– Neil Gaiman

“The trouble with most of us is that we'd rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”
– Norman Vincent Peale

“When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.”
– Unknown

“It is much more valuable to look for the strength in others. You can gain nothing by criticizing their imperfections.”
– Daisaku Ikeda

“The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews.”
– William Faulkner

“If we judge ourselves only by our aspirations and everyone else only their conduct we shall soon reach a very false conclusion.”
– Calvin Coolidge

“I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.”
– Charles Schwab

“I criticize by creation, not by finding fault.”
– Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.”
– Elvis Presley

“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”
– Frank A. Clark

“People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.”
– Gary Chapman

“Criticism is the disapproval of people, not for having faults, but having faults different from your own.”
– Unknown

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.
So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

“Before you go and criticize the younger generation, just remember who raised them.”
– Unknown

“Who do you spend time with? Criticizers or encouragers? Surround yourself with those who believe in you. Your life is too important for anything less.”
– Steve Goodier

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
– Winston Churchill

“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”
– Abraham Lincoln

“I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man's self-respect is a sin.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

“One mustn't criticize other people on grounds where he can't stand perpendicular himself”
– Mark Twain

“That was excellently observed’, say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.”
– Jonathan Swift

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.”
– Benjamin Franklin

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you.”
– William Arthur Ward

“A man interrupted one of the Buddha’s lectures with a flood of abuse.
Buddha waited until he had finished and then asked him:
If a man offered a gift to another but the gift was declined, to whom would the gift belong?
To the one who offered it, said the man.
Then, said the Buddha, I decline to accept your abuse and request you to keep it for yourself.”

“Children need models rather than critics.”
– Joseph Joubert

“Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”
– Abraham Lincoln

“We need very strong ears to hear ourselves judged frankly, and because there are few who can endure frank criticism without being stung by it, those who venture to criticize us perform a remarkable act of friendship, for to undertake to wound or offend a man for his own good is to have a healthy love for him.”
– Michel de Montaigne

What's your favorite or most helpful quote on criticism? Feel free to share the best one(s) you have found in this article or in your life in the comments section below.

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehack, The Huffington Post and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Candy Lawton

    I truly look forward to the next blog. I read it first thing in the morning. It gives me comfort. It also alerts me that I often need to change things about myself. This is better than all those self-help books. I appreciate your words every time you send your blog I am grateful. Thank You!

  • I needed this! I received a bit of criticism many months ago that still creeps up and weighs down on me to this day. I was having a tough time letting go of it, but I’ve found a lot of comfort in the quotes and advice here.

  • Sandra

    Great posts. Wise words and thoughts. Appreciating the concise good read. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    “Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”
    – Abraham Lincoln

  • Dominique

    I look forward to these, they are very inspiring and helpful. Allows me to start my day on the right foot and a better understanding of life and people. Thanks for your blog. Keep up the great work!!!

  • Anonymous

    “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

  • Robyn Elliot

    As usual, excellent and informative post, Henrik. I think criticizers should be rolled up into a carpet, and placed neatly in a corner of the room. Only unroll them when they have something nice to say! I don’t think I’m being unduly harsh, am I?!

  • UPW

    You cannot be successful if you don’t get criticized. Whatever you are doing, there will be someone who criticizes you. The bigger the things you’re doing, the more criticism you will get. But keep going anyway!

  • I think bloggers and other people who step out into a vulnerable position can really relate to these. Number 20 really resonates. Thank you.

    “Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”
    – Abraham Lincoln

    Always look at things from other people’s points of view!

  • Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote (#26) really resonated with me. It’s a great reminder to do what you feel is right and disregard what others may think of you. Always best to stick to your gut and what you believe.

    Keep up the great work! Love that you spread such positive messages!

  • Great quotes you have there. Never let criticism into one’s heart, it can destroy you and keep you stuck. Thanks for sharing a very motivating post.

  • Absolutely loved it. Adding my two cents from my reading:

    A criticism should go with compassion and care. That works. Blaming is out of anger, jealousy, hatred and does not work. It does not yield any result – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

    What they see in you is a reflection of their very self. What you don’t have in you, you can’t see in others. – Om Swami

  • My favorite quote would be this:

    “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.”
    – Benjamin Franklin

    I meet a lot of people who feel stressed and frustrated about getting criticism, and I would always tell them that it’s their choice if they’re going to let other people’s words affect them so strongly that it gets them stuck and unable to do anything productive or take the words as a challenge. The next time I encounter someone with a similar problem, I’d quote this one. Heck, I’d just link them to this page! Thanks for sharing.

  • Sam

    Give the Best to the World and Best will come back to you.

    Same is applicable for personal and corporate business….