Criticism can be difficult to receive, especially when we perceive it as an attack. Our natural defences kick in to try and avoid the pain and shame of being wrong. However, it is something we’re bound to face throughout our careers and can oftentimes be very constructive!
Here are some tips to help you receive criticism gracefully:
7 Steps to Receive Criticism Gracefully
Allow the other person to share their complete thoughts without interruption. Recognize that they may be feeling nervous, and may not express their ideas perfectly. Be patient and listen to them.
Focus on understanding his or her comments and perspective. Put yourself in their shoes and see where they’re coming from. Avoid analysing or questioning their assessment. They may have a valid reason for their criticism.
It can be difficult to take criticism positively right away. Don’t worry if you need to take a moment to process what they’re saying. Remember that it probably isn’t an attack on your capability, but rather, a potential area for improvement. Quietly take a deep breath and compose yourself before continuing.
3) Thank them
Because every piece of criticism is an opportunity to learn, try to respond with a heart of gratitude and openness. If you can, thank them for investing into your growth! (It can help to remember that your appreciation doesn’t mean that you agree with their assessment.)
Realistically though, this step can be hard. When we feel threatened, our defense mechanism kicks into high gear. So if you can’t think of anything constructive to reply in the moment, stay silent or request to respond at a later time.
4) Clarify with questions
You may like to ask for specific examples and recommendations to help you address their particular concern. Avoid being sarcastic here. It’s easy to submit to our bruised egos! Focus on questions that will lead to a constructive outcome after the feedback session.
5) Assess their intentions
It’s best practice to start off by giving the other party the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their intentions. However, if you realize that they may be behaving politically or that they do not want to be constructive, beware. It may be a good idea to request for the presence of a mediator before continuing with the conversation.
6) Suggest next steps
If you’re able to, agree on some simple next steps that will get things kicking in the right direction. It will show that you’ve taken their feedback seriously and assures them that you’re serious about improving.
7) Reflect (without beating yourself up)
After the discussion has ended, allocate some time to reflect. Why was the criticism made? Is it reasonable? Should you discuss this with someone you trust? You’re often able to make a wise decision about the best course of action by this point. Whatever you do, don’t throw yourself a pity party! Keep moving forward and learn from every experience.
It’s Time to Turn Criticism into Opportunities
Always keep in mind that the purpose of feedback is to seek improvement. Deal with it objectively, with dignity and sophistication. You’ll come out better off.
Your Career Management Experts,