Taking Constructive Criticism Like a Champ
Constructive criticism is often the only way we learn about our weaknesses—without it we can’t improve. When we’re defensive, instead of accepting and gracious, we run the risk of missing out on this important insight. Remember, feedback’s not easy to give and it’s certainly not easy to receive, but it’ll help us now and in the long run.
Stop Your First Reaction
At the first sign of criticism, before you do anything—stop. Really. Try not to react at all! You’ll have at least one second to stop your reaction. While one second seems insignificant in real life, it’s ample time for your brain to process a situation. And in that moment, you can halt a dismissive facial expression or reactive quip and remind yourself to stay calm.
Remember the Benefit of Getting Feedback
You should also try to curtail any reaction you’re having to the person who is delivering the feedback. It can be challenging to receive criticism from a co-worker, a peer, or someone that you don’t fully respect, but, remember: Accurate and constructive feedback comes even from flawed sources.
Listen for Understanding
As the person shares feedback with you, listen closely. Allow the person to share their complete thoughts, without interruption. When they’re done, repeat back what you heard. For example, “I hear you saying that you want me to provide more detailed weekly reports, is that right?”
Say Thank You
Don’t gloss over this—be deliberate, and say, “I really appreciate you taking the time to talk about this with me.”
Ask Questions to Deconstruct the Feedback
Seek specific examples to help you understand the issue: “I was a little frustrated, but can you share when in the meeting you thought I got heated?”
- Acknowledge the feedback that is not in dispute
- Try to understand whether this is an isolated issue (e.g., a mistake you made once
- Look for concrete solutions to address the feedback
Request Time to Follow Up
Once you articulate what you will do going forward, and thank the person again for the feedback, you can close the conversation and move on.