We all need to learn from our mistakes, but we may be making mistakes without realizing it. Accepting and using criticism to improve ourselves is an art. It may be the difference between being stuck in a rut or being able to perform better professionally and personally.
It’s easy to become defensive when hearing criticism or discrediting the source. We may come up with excuses for results that are less than optimal. The Muse has these suggestions for not taking criticism personally, finding value in it and using it positively.
Stop Your First Reaction
Try not to react when you get criticism. Take a second so your brain can process the situation. Stay calm, try not to show a dismissive facial expression or use reactive words.
Remember the Benefit of Getting Feedback
Think about the benefits of constructive criticism: you can improve your skills, work product, relationships, and to help you meet the expectations of your client or managing partner. Even if you don’t really like the source or hold him or her in the highest regard, accurate and constructive feedback can come from flawed sources.
Listen to Understand
Engage in a productive dialog as your competent, professional, thoughtful self. Listen closely and allow the person to give his or her complete thoughts without interruption. Repeat back what you heard. Focus on understanding the comments and the person’s perspective. Give the person the benefit of the doubt. It’s difficult for most of us to be critical of others. The feedback is probably from a person who genuinely wants you to do better, not drag you down.
Say Thank You
Look the person in the eyes and thank him or her for sharing their thoughts. Tell them you appreciate the fact they took the time and effort to do so, whether or not you agree with the criticism. You’re showing that you’re acknowledging the effort your colleague took to evaluate you and share his or her thoughts.
Ask Questions to Deconstruct the Feedback
Process the feedback, ask questions to get more clarity and share your perspective. This isn’t a debate. Try to get to the root of the issues being raised and come up with possible solutions for addressing them. Try to find specific solutions to address the feedback.
Ask for Time to Follow Up
By now you may agree on the issues that were raised. Thank the person again for the feedback, close the conversation and move on. If it’s a major issue brought up by your boss, you could ask for follow up meeting to ask more questions or discuss what to do next.
We all want to please others. Getting criticism from a colleague, managing partner or client can be deflating and ego bruising or the first step to doing a better job for your firm and your clients.