No matter how prepared you are, it is not easy to open yourself up to criticism. If the thought alone makes your heart race and your bones shiver, you are not alone.
For most people, it is tough to be on the receiving end of a criticism from a colleague or someone higher-up, like your boss, even if their words do have merit. However, despite the uneasiness it brings, criticism should not be taken personally. In fact, if managed gracefully, it can be a valuable tool to evaluate and improve one’s skills.
Here are some tips to cope with constructive feedback a little bit easier:
When criticisms are thrown at you, listen intently to define and understand the root of the issue. By actively listening, you can ask accurate and considered questions to clarify which points you’ve gone amiss and what necessary actions are needed to resolve the issue. You don’t have to agree with everything you’ve heard, but you can take all points into consideration. Listening allows you to calm down before saying anything that might be inappropriate.
Do not react defensively – you might say something you would regret and could have a long-lasting stain on your reputation. It is understandable that criticisms may affect your mood but remember not to react in the heat of your emotions. It is normal to feel the need to defend yourself in the first instance, but it is important to take a moment and process your response thoroughly. Let the intensity of your feeling pass. Later, you’ll realise that extracting the positive out from a negative experience and taking the high road shows professionalism and gives you the capacity for personal growth.
Don’t take it personally
Criticisms can feel like an unfair attack and you may get emotional with this but remember, criticisms are not directed to you as a person – you are not your job. Always remember to speak diplomatically, keep grounded and try not to be defensive. Instead, gently remind yourself about your work objective and focus on how you can improve your performance.
Accept the criticism professionally
Criticism is inevitable, so it is very important that you learn how to handle and take it in your stride. Sooner or later, you’ll have to face helpful, constructive feedback and perhaps even unnecessary, harsh criticisms; especially in the early stages of your career. What’s important is how you handle criticism, what you take from it and its impact on your life. Take genuine suggestions wholeheartedly and ask questions, as often as possible, about how you can improve.
Without being argumentative, try to offer solutions and have open discussions with your superior. You may feel like you’ve been wronged but calm down, you can always learn from your mistakes and show a positive attitude in the long run. Though hard, it is indeed a great skill to learn, and your maturity will set you apart from the rest.