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How to accept constructive criticism

Sometimes, it seems like people who take constructive criticism affably aren’t phased by it. It’s as if they were born this way, and know nothing about struggling when receiving feedback. You wish to be like them but instead, you keep pitying yourself. “Well, yes, I’m the one who will catch my heart jumping out of my chest every time I have a work-related conversation with my boss or colleague. So what?” you think, “Just another weakness. Everyone has them. I’ll survive.”

Do you really want to be that person? No? Then forget all the excuses, and don’t be. Yes, it’s as simple as that.

The truth is, there’s no such thing as a congenital trait to accept criticism graciously. The ability to give a polite response to critique is just one more useful habit you can and need to develop. Here is how.

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.

1. Realize the value

When criticism arrives, many people struggle to control themselves in the moment, and react with confusion or even a nger . Some people even get defensive and attack the person who provided the feedback.

This behavior won’t lead you to success. You have to get over it. If the critique is constructive, then the person who offered it cares about you and is trying to help you, not hurt you. In fact, you need constructive criticism to spot your weaknesses and areas of improvement. Accepting the critique calmly will help you to maintain your professional relationships and achieve your goals faster.

2. Take your time

The moment the first signs of criticism appear, take your courage in both hands, and don’t panic. Give yourself time to process the situation and calm down. If you can’t make yourself look directly at the person who is giving you feedback, it’s okay. Do not force yourself to smile or say anything. It’s better not to react at all.

This way, you’ll kill two birds with one stone: being silent will allow you to show you care because you don’t interrupt the speaker, and you’ll make a good impression by handling the critique maturely.

3. Appreciate the feedback

After you take control over your emotions, be sure to bear in mind the many benefits of constructive criticism. Criticism helps you improve your skills, develop good relationships with colleagues, and get closer to achieving your goals.

Now, having grasped the positive impact of the feedback, it’s time to engage in the conversation and start listening carefully.

4. Interact

You’ve stopped the panic, taken control of your negative emotions, and reminded yourself of all the benefits of receiving constructive criticism. Well done! Now, you’re ready to carry on a productive dialogue.

First of all, be open-minded. If a person decided to share her or his thoughts about your work and progress, he or she probably has a strong reason for it and can offer you insights that will help you improve your results. So, let them express their opinion without interruption.

Once the person has finished, he or she would like to hear what you’re thinking. Take this chance to show that you respect others’ opinions. First, repeat the request you’ve received as you understood it. For instance, I hear you want me to change my priorities and spend more time on the new project we got last month? Do not let yourself analyze or critique the request. Shush you inner doubter. Remember, the person who gives you feedback can feel uncomfortable too, and express their ideas in an unclear way. Thus, your main task here is to focus on clarifying the exact nature of the criticism.

5. Ask questions

You don’t have to start arguing or debating, but you need to ask questions to deconstruct the feedback and prevent misunderstandings in the future. For example, if your boss told you he or she liked your vision but found your arguments at the last meeting unpersuasive, you could:

  • Ask if it was just one point of your vision that you couldn’t express clearly, or the whole idea. For example: I know, sometimes, when I’m excited, my presentation can be rambling. Can you tell me how I might make my statements easier to understand? Would flip charts maybe help?
  • Admit your weakness: Yes, it’s true, I can be confusing when expressing my thoughts. I’m working on it. Perhaps I should consider attending speaking classes. What do you think?”
  • Be open to advice: “Maybe you’ve experienced this problem before and can give me some advice?”

6. Say thank you

It’s not easy, it’s true. But it’s necessary. After clearing things up, look your colleague in the eye, and thank them for giving you feedback. Do not throw “t hanks over your shoulder on the way out. Do it deliberately and thoughtfully. Say I appreciate your comments. Thank you for sharing them.”

The words of appreciation don’t mean you agree with the comments, but they show you respect your colleagues and value their opinion.

7. Show your engagement

If the critique is clear and you know how to handle the situation, you can end the conversation by saying thank you, and then move on. But if it’s a larger issue, or the feedback was provided by your boss, you can ask for a follow-up meeting to track your progress and gather your ideas. This way, you show your colleagues that you’re a team player; you don’t hide from problems, but try to solve them promptly.

Constructive criticism is your ally, not your enemy

Constructive criticism is key to self-improvement. It’s only when we know our flaws that we can work on them. Giving a hostile reception to constructive critique instead of taking it graciously won’t do you any good. Sure, feedback is not easy to take, but it’s very helpful now and extremely useful in the long run.

Being bullied or overly-criticized can cause damage in life. However, constructive criticism can actually help you grow and become stronger.

I’ve been bullied before, most during my childhood in primary school. I was criticized daily and called names. I did suffer damage from this treatment, some that still linger and cause me problems today. I have also dealt with harsh criticism as an adult as well, from both intimate partners and family members. I do know the difference between being purposely hurt and enduring constructive criticism because I learned the hard way.

The difference between damage and growth

Here are the basics: You can grow or you can wither from the words you receive from others. I was forced to grow up fast because I had few friends that didn’t bully me. I learned that the same statements or words can either work in negative or positive ways, it all depends on how they are used.

That’s the simple truth of it. Constructive criticism and harsh criticism are two sides of a coin…then there’s the extreme of bullying. There are, however, ways to tell the difference.

Criticism vs Constructive criticism

Straight out criticism is designed to show someone their downfall. Sometimes, these criticisms are even designed to be outright hurtful. Fortunately, we do learn from criticism, but our self-esteem takes a hit as well.

This can cause mental and emotional damage at the time of critique and later on as well. Family, even though they are supposed to be loving, can be the worst users of harsh criticism, and this is where the most long-lasting damage comes.

On the other hand, constructive criticism is designed to help someone to do better. Usually, this type of criticism is spoken in a nice manner without harsh words and statements. Teachers often offer constructive criticism in order to help their students make better grades and perform more efficiently. The same can be said of employers and even some family and friends.

Criticism vs bullying

Since criticism can be harsh, it stands to reason that bullying can be even worse. The main reason why bullying is so bad is that it can consist of a constant flow of criticism with no intention of being helpful. In fact, the sole purpose of bullying behavior is to bring another person down. Bullying can be used in a crafty manner as well.

Some children and even adults will resort to what they call, “teasing”. While some of this behavior is harmless and fun, it can lead to severe bullying behavior. “Teasing” is okay when both parties are laughing, but it becomes bullying when one person starts to feel hurt.

Many times, people bully others because they themselves suffer from a low self-esteem, and they wish for someone else to feel the pressure and pain of this ailment. Bullying is one of the most dangerous acts in our society today and it takes its toll on the mind and body. While harsh criticism is harmful, it doesn’t hold a candle to outright bullying behavior, which can even lead to suicide.

Utilizing constructive criticism

The best part about criticism is being able to utilize it for good. Yes, you can use critical judgment to improve your life and the lives of others. However, you must understand how constructive criticism works and how it fails. Here are a few pointers.

1. Focus on the positive

Before you tell someone about their faults, make sure you emphasize their strengths first. Placing focus on the strengths of others will help them accept their faults and recognize where things can be improved. This also ensures their confidence level is high as well.

2. Talk about the problem, not the person

When you do talk about the things that should be changed, don’t put the focus on the person. For instance, if your friend is being selfish, don’t say, “You’re selfish”. Try saying, “It would be nice if we did some things for someone else. It feels good to help others.”

Do you see what I mean? The problem is, there isn’t enough giving in the world. Being selfless helps that aspect and so focusing on how to solve the problem instead of criticizing faults works so much better. Over time, people will get better at giving.

3. Only talk about what can be improved

Never criticize someone for something they cannot change. This will only make them feel worse. Instead, only focus on things that you can change, and especially things you can work on together. For the things that cannot be changed, let them be for now. A resolution may surface in the future.

4. If you criticize, then help

Never judge someone unless you’re willing to help them change. Criticizing someone and then walking away makes them feel helpless. In an ongoing situation, it’s actually a form of bullying. If you make any critical judgments, always be willing to stick around and help find solutions to make things better. It’s the honorable thing to do.

Understanding the differences

Before you criticize someone, make sure you understand the differences between bullying, criticism, and constructive criticism. It’s possible that you’re making someone you love feel bad about themselves, and this can be avoided.

It’s also possible that you’re missing opportunities to help someone grow and become a better person. Only through understanding the differences will you be able to help them, so let’s get started.

How to accept constructive criticism

A few years back, I wrote about a senior citizen who told me she had a hard time focusing on my sermons because my pants were too tight. It’s still one of my favorite stories of criticism. However, it’s only a good story because it makes me laugh.

In reality, most of the criticism we encounter doesn’t make us laugh; it makes us uncomfortable. Sometimes we’re uncomfortable because the criticism is wrong (as in the case mentioned above). But other times we’re uncomfortable because the criticism hits right on the mark.

Not all criticism is created equal. Destructive criticism should be dealt with appropriately, and I’ve written about that in my article, Responding Rightly to Wrong Criticism. Constructive criticism, however, is a different animal altogether.

Destructive criticism often comes from those who aren’t supporters and who have no desire to see you succeed. Constructive criticism is friendly fire intended to sharpen you up, not tear you down.

Even though the person who says your sermons are way too long may have good intentions, it can be a difficult thing to hear. It stings to be told your children are a distraction in the service. It’s frustrating when you find out the music in the worship service was a turn-off to visitors. When friends offer criticism, their goal is to see you improve and see your ministry thrive.

But for constructive criticism to be effective, it must be received well and acted upon appropriately. Here are five pieces of advice from the Proverbs and from Psalms I’ve used when responding to constructive criticism.

Consider the source.

Proverbs 27:6 reminds us, “the wounds of a friend are trustworthy.” One of the best ways to determine whether criticism is constructive or destructive is to consider the source. Does the person who offered the criticism have a history of supporting you and your ministry? If so, assume the best about his or her intentions.

Listen so you can grow wise.

Proverbs 15:31 says, “ One who listens to life-giving rebukes will be at home among the wise. ” The NLT version of the same verse says it this way, “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise.” Don’t defend yourself; just listen and watch God work in your own heart and life.

Practice what you preach.

Pastors are not above the ministry of the local church. If the church has a responsibility to hold each other accountable, then the pastor is certainly subject to the same expectations as the rest of the church body, “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

Grow in humility.

God uses the humble, and nothing humbles you faster than receiving criticism well. I had to apologize once for allowing my anger during a sermon to speak louder than God’s Word. I didn’t enjoy that kind rebuke from the other pastors in our church, but they were right and that slice of humble pie made me a better pastor because, as Psalm 25:9 says, “ He leads the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. ”

Pride will lead to destruction.

Proverbs 16:18 says, “ Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall. ” Proverbs 11:2 puts it this way, “ When arrogance comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom .” If you refuse to submit to constructive criticism, your days in ministry are numbered. You can choose between pride and faithfulness, but you can’t have both.

After nearly twenty years in vocational ministry, criticism hasn’t stopped stinging. And I doubt criticism will be enjoyable in the next twenty years. But I can honestly say I’m learning to listen closest to the criticism that comes from my biggest fans. If criticism comes from those who love me and long to see our church thrive, I need to give it a listen.

When your best friend points out the use of Arial font on your church website, you thank him for saving you public embarrassment. When you leave a pen light on in your pocket during a candlelight service, you thank the person who helps you avoid embarrassment. If your sermons have become dull and dry, be thankful you have friends or a wife who are willing to tell you hard truth in love.

Not all criticism is equal. But if you have friends who love you enough to say hard things to make you better, work diligently to treat those wounds as blessings.

Constructive criticism is just that—criticism that’s given to be constructive. Consider how God is using it to form you into a more helpful vessel for His kingdom.

CRAIG THOMPSON ( @craig_thompson ) is the husband of Angela, father of four, and the senior pastor of Malvern Hill Baptist Church in Camden, South Carolina.

O ne of the biggest ways to grow—both personally and professionally—is to learn to accept constructive criticism. But this is far easier said than done.

When it comes to getting my work critiqued, I can get super defensive. Being a creative person, I pour my heart and soul into the content I create, so hearing someone say it didn’t resonate or it ‘just wasn’t for them’ really hurts.

Regardless, though, I know that people’s thoughts can be really important in shaping me into a better writer. (Within reason, of course.)

It’s important to think about perspectives outside of your own, especially when it comes to creative work, because everyone is different. You’re not only creating to you, but to an audience. And when you tap into (and accept constructive criticism from) this audience, your work will inevitably strengthen and grow.

Here are ways to accept thoughts and opinions on your work (without losing what makes you unique).

1. Keep an open mind.

Everyone has an opinion—remember that. And remember that someone’s opinion of you or your work doesn’t define it.

That being said, keep an open mind. You’re not always going to create something that’s exceptional—unfortunately that’s a cold, hard truth of life. Welcome different ideas and perspectives. Learn to accept things that challenge what you’ve known, or open you up to new views.

And above all, know that critiques don’t have to completely reshape how and what you create. They can simply influence.

2. Expand your mind by getting out of your comfort zone.

Sometimes there are limitations on the content we produce because we only know our experience. Although it’s great to ‘write what you know’ (as a writer) or create something that resonates with you personally, it’s equally as valuable to get outside of your comfort zone.

Instead of always defaulting to what you’ve always done, try something new. You might fail, you might create something you hate, and you might be frustrated or face harsh feedback. But all of this will help you grow and keep you from going stagnant.

3. Take deep breaths before you respond.

Sometimes people will say something that really upsets you. It’s okay to feel those feelings, but what’s not okay is exploding on the other person because you’re hurt.

If you find yourself overreacting or wanting to lash out, take a moment and breathe. This will help to re-center you, calm your mind, and allow you to have a more professional response. (Which is good regardless of whether this constructive criticism is in a personal or professional sphere.)

4. Recognize what’s not actually constructive and learn to let it go.

Sometimes people will give you their ‘well-meaning’ advice that isn’t actually well-meaning at all. Whether they’re misinformed, uneducated in the subject, or just trying to get a rise out of you, it’s important to acknowledge what’s actually constructive criticism, and what’s just trying to tear you down.

Here are some examples of constructive feedback. They may or may not apply to your industry, but try to read them within the lens of the work you create.

”I like what you did with ___, but I think you could benefit from ___.”
“Your concept is strong, but I think something that’s lacking right now is ___.”
“I love what you created! It seems very personal, though, and I’m wondering if you could try ___.”
“I think you should create something that’s ___ next time. I’d love to see what that looks like.”

What separates these statements from negative feedback is that the speaker is leading into a solution. It’s important to note that the person isn’t telling the creator what to do, or flat out saying they don’t like what the person created. They are giving an opportunity for potential improvement without knocking the quality of the work produced.

5. Ask questions to deconstruct what’s been shared with you.

When someone shares their opinions on your work, you’re bound to have a bunch of different feelings and reactions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to understand what the person is saying.

This will help you to unpack and make use of the criticism in the way it’s intended—to help you improve.

6. Say ‘thank you’ and request a follow up.

No matter how much you appreciate or hate the feedback you’ve been given, thank the person because of the time and effort he/she put in. A ‘thank you’ can go a long way in terms of creating relationships and potential referrals.

If relevant, request a follow-up so that the person who gave you the constructive criticism can see the changes you’ve made and potentially give you more.

Remember the benefits of receiving feedback (even if it’s difficult).

Feedback is essential to growing you as a person and creator. If you don’t have feedback, you’ll never know ways that your writing can change or build—and that does nothing for you!

Even if the feedback you’ve received is not what you expected (or downright painful) remember the benefits of receiving it in the first place. What doesn’t kill yo/u makes you stronger! Right?!

You don’t have to wait for others to take the initiative in giving you constructive criticism. You can ask those whose opinion and expertise you trust for advice or suggestions to help you do a better job or avoid making the same mistake. The only dumb question is the unasked one. Let others know if you need help or are struggling before problems become apparent. Most people are more than willing to provide assistance or answer questions to help you do a better job. Ask someone you trust for a performance review at work or for an honest opinion in a friendship or interpersonal relationship. Then be willing to act on that information, if applicable.

Accepting the advice of others is the hallmark of an open mind and cooperative spirit. Accepting constructive criticism can make you a more effective friend, spouse or employee.

How to accept constructive criticism

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How to accept constructive criticism

According to the Harvard Business Review, employees prefer receiving negative or corrective feedback over positive feedback. That makes sense because feedback helps us get better at what we do. However, that doesn’t mean that constructive criticism is always easy to take at the moment. Or that managers are always very good at delivering it. Still, it’s important that you learn to handle constructive criticism well. This quick guide will show you how.

Constructive Criticism Definition

In the workplace, constructive criticism is feedback intended to help a worker make improvements. Ideally, it is actionable, meaning that the recipient walks away with specific actions they can take to better their performance. It should also be specific, as general criticism is too vague to really act on.

Constructive Criticism Examples

Here’s an example of a criticism that is too general to be constructive:

Jenna’s boss is frustrated that her reports are disorganized and difficult to read. He emails her stating, “Jenna, these reports are a mess! I’m sure there is great information here, but I can’t get through it. Please fix this.”

Now, the same criticism framed in a way that is more constructive:

“Jenna, I’m struggling to find the information I need here. Your research is great, and I want you to get credit for your ideas. Perhaps you could include a table of contents at the beginning, and add some subheadings to make things easier to find. It would also help the executives to have a summary paragraph at the top.”

Here’s another example of constructive criticism in the workplace:

“Hey Bob, the next time you bring the auto parts out for delivery, it would help if you could mark each box with the delivery zip code. The drivers could just grab the box intended for them without having to double-check paperwork.”

There are two things that are important here.

First, the constructive criticism detailed what the problem was, and gave specific suggestions to improve. That’s important. Providing the ‘why’ helps the person understand what the problem is, and that they aren’t simply being picked at. The detailed suggestions help them to actually do something about it.

If you read the constructive criticism directed at Jenna, you can see that it uses a technique described by MIT Sloan. This involves simply stating your intention when criticizing someone. Jenna’s boss says they want her to get credit for her ideas. This can help Jenna listen to the criticism without assuming her boss is simply trying to make her feel bad.

Constructive Criticism vs. Destructive Criticism

Do you take constructive criticism poorly? You may need to work on that. On the other hand, your boss may be using destructive criticism if they have low managerial skills. Such criticism can be damaging. It’s also ineffective.

Destructive criticism undermines confidence, causes embarrassment, and negatively impacts your ability to do your job. Here are some signs of destructive criticism:

  • Delivering criticisms in public
  • Using extreme phrasing such as ‘You always’ or ‘You never’
  • Attacking your intentions or motives
  • Refusal to provide specific suggestions or examples

If you walk away from a situation feeling denigrated, and unsure of what to do, you probably received destructive criticism.

How to accept constructive criticism

When you receive constructive criticism, you may feel mildly embarrassed or not. However, you will also walk away with specific ideas to implement. Constructive criticism also feels like a critique of your performance, not your character.

How Do You Handle Destructive Criticism?

Be clear and firm, without being emotional. Remember that even destructive criticism can have good intentions behind it. Managers are sometimes poor communicators. It’s up to you to spell out exactly what you need when receiving negative feedback.

For example, you might say “It doesn’t help me improve my performance when you say I don’t care about my job. Could you please give me two or three things I can work on today to improve?”

Of course, there’s a point where destructive criticism becomes toxic and abusive. At that point, you may need to escalate things to HR.

How to Take Constructive Criticism

There are two things to consider when you receive constructive criticism at work.

The first is that you want to be sure you understand and communicate that to the coworker, boss, or client. The second is that you make plans to act on that criticism.

Here are some steps you can take to handle constructive criticism like a champ:

  1. Take a breath and don’t react too quickly
  2. Keep in mind that critical feedback is good and necessary
  3. Don’t interrupt the speaker, no matter how tempting
  4. Repeat back to them their points in your own words to verify that you understand
  5. Thank them for the feedback
  6. Ask detailed questions or for examples without being defensive
  7. Communicate what you will do specifically to incorporate any changes.
  8. Request a follow-up or future communication

This may sound like a lot, but remember that responding to criticism doesn’t need to be some lengthy, formal process. It can be as simple as:

“Hey, thanks for the feedback. Just to be sure I understand, you want a summary at the top of my reports for the people who don’t need to read all the details. I should also add a table of contents so that the team is able to quickly find what they need. Would it help to simply create a separate, executive summary?”

Seeing Constructive Criticism as an Opportunity

Here’s something to consider: managers rarely waste time providing constructive feedback to workers they don’t have faith in. This kind of feedback is intended to improve performance. When you receive it, embrace it as an opportunity to stand out as an effective employee!

It’s no denying that most individuals don’t like getting their imperfections pinpointed by their peers or superiors. However, the irony is that other individuals often perceive our ineptness more vividly than we do. Most of us want our work to be honored for a well-executed task, but some of us want the same attention for a job that is not well executed. The point is, you should be empowered by a constructive critique, not wounded!

Although listening to where you went wrong, getting your work judged can be annoying, but it is essential for your learning & professional growth.

If you wholeheartedly get over the constructive criticism, perceive it appropriately, and act upon the input, it can do wonders for you!

I have listed a few tips to make the most out of your peers/superiors feedback:

(1). Do not beat yourself up about it:

Constructive criticism is merely someone’s remarks about you or your work. It does not matter if the person is being honest about you or simply toying with you. You must respond positively and politely.

After all, you are the person with brains you must examine for yourself and check if the feedback is valid or not. If the feedback was authentic and was worth shredding, thank the person who gave it to you & if it was not bona fide and supposedly meant to discourage you, politely reply, pretend, and ignore. After all, you are quick-witted and nimble enough to take care of little things like that!

How to accept constructive criticism

(2). Ask for more elaboration:

Ask specifically where did you went wrong? To get your heart into the predicament, you will need further details. Doing so will help you analyze better, and the feedback will stay in the back of your mind; So you would not be repeating the same errors again, and wherever plausible, ask for elaboration (Protip: While doing so, stay in control of your responses) if not do try to self-analyze.

(3). Ask for help!

An easy way to rectify yourself is by asking others for feedback! Instead of waiting for the things to go out of your hand, step up and ask. Start with something similar to “you have known me for a long time, do share if you have any suggestions for me.” A candid conversation will not only get you the truth, but people are also a lot nicer this way.

How to accept constructive criticism

(4). Share your progress:

To honor the person who gave you constructive feedback. After you have worked enough on that particular flaw of yours and you see a visible difference in your performance. Try reaching out to that person and share your progress elaborating on how it helped you. Doing so will make them believe that you care about their opinion. So, in the future, if they see any flaw in your work, they will reach out to you and share their opinion with you.

(5). Stay in control of your responses:

As a final point, you should always stay in control of your responses! Never lose your mind! One reckless response can ruin relations with your peers, seniors, and faculty. Even if you are offended, do not try to retaliate! The other person might not be doing it on purpose or even if he/she is trying to do so intentionally. You are the smart person there is no need to make a scene out of it!

Let’s admit it: even if we know constructive criticism is good for us, it can be a challenge to accept it. Hearing that we’re doing something wrong, and then fixing it, is a next-level personality challenge. What we do know, however, is that it’s worth it to listen, because very often other people see our behavior better than we do. Accepting constructive criticism is also the key to getting promoted at work, because feedback is a crucial part of rising within a company.

Here’s how to accept constructive criticism gracefully, and improve your life in the process.

Have an open mind

Our egos are not our friends. Ego is the force that pushes other people away to protect ourselves, and it throws a tantrum any time someone suggests we’re flawed. The first key to accepting constructive criticism is to dock your ego.

It’ll be difficult to accept what your manager is telling you if you don’t hear him or her out. Listen, take it in, and process what’s being said instead of getting defensive.

Your physical body will show signs of panic if you feel threatened, even by advice or criticism. To combat that, keep your breathing steady and try to stop fidgeting.

Constructive criticism could be what you need to move in the right direction— by isolating areas to work on, you can focus on bettering your performance next time around.

Resist the temptation to show your frustration

Getting snotty about criticism, or lashing out, is a death sentence for your career. You’ll be labeled as volatile and oversensitive, and even if you’re talented you’ll have to be twice as talented to make up for the label of having a bad attitude.

Nicole Lindsay writes about this in an article for The Muse.

“At the first sign of criticism, before you do anything—stop. Really. Try not to react at all! You will 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,” Lindsay writes.

Don’t take it personally

It’s also important to remember this: criticism, constructive or not, is not really a judgment. It’s information. Appreciate it as information and, to fully understand it, separate yourself from your work.

Jacqueline Whitmore writes about how you shouldn’t “take it personally” in an Entrepreneur article.

“Constructive criticism is not an insult or a reflection on who you are as a person. It’s merely someone’s observations about his or her interactions with you in a business context. Whether the person is well-meaning or just being mean-spirited doesn’t really matter. Respond respectfully as though your critic’s intentions are good, and come from a place of gratitude for the information. After all, you’re smart and savvy enough to determine how valid the feedback is and what to do about it,” Whitmore writes.

Assume this posture

Don’t show that you’re closed off, even if you would rather be having any other conversation at work at the moment.

An Inc. article illustrates how you should position yourself.

“When offered constructive criticism, pay special attention to your body language. Assume a ‘neutral’ posture; keep your arms on the table, in your lap, or a combination of both. Maintain eye contact, and be aware of your shifting weight. Avoid crossing your arms, tightening your fists, pursing your lips, or rolling your eyes,” the article says.

Say these words

Here’s a template for the next time you get criticism.

She writes this an example, “I’m glad you’re telling me this. I’ve been letting some deadlines on this project slide because I had thought that projects x and z were higher priorities and was more focused there. But am I looking at this wrong?”

But if you don’t agree with what’s being said, Green provides more advice.

She adds, “If you genuinely disagree with the criticism you’re hearing, and you’re sure it’s not just your ego getting in the way, it’s OK to say that. But it’s all in how you say it and what tone you use. For instance, you might say: ‘I hadn’t realized it was coming across that way, so I’m glad to know. From my perspective, it seems like _____.’ (Fill in the blank with whatever your perspective is.)”

You will survive hearing where you went wrong at work— just use constructive criticism to fuel your forward progress.

How to accept constructive criticism

Constructive criticism in the workplace can help employees understand what they are doing well and what they need help with. Benefits include professional development, clarified expectations, stronger working relationships and overall organizational growth.

Workers understand the value of constructive criticism — and they even prefer it to praise and congratulatory comments. By a three to one margin, respondents in a Harvard Business Review study believe that constructive criticism does more to improve their performance than positive feedback. More respondents (57 percent) prefer receiving constructive criticism over positive feedback (43 percent).

How to accept constructive criticismSource: adapted from Harvard Business Review

Despite the benefits of and desire to receive constructive criticism in the workplace, the study revealed that managers and leaders strongly dislike giving this type of feedback. The following tips can make this process as simple and effective as possible.

7 Tips for Giving Constructive Criticism

Avoid Surprises

A meeting without notice can cause employees to feel intimidated and catch them off-guard when you provide feedback. Schedule a meeting and explain what you want to talk about. This will give the employee some notice and time to prepare.

Keep It Private

Don’t provide individual feedback in a group setting. Giving constructive criticism in the workplace should be done privately, so that the employee doesn’t feel singled out and you have the time to work through the feedback. Public and rushed displays of feedback blur the line and can lead to destructive criticism.

Be Specific

Clear and specific feedback is critical. Get to the point quickly to avoid confusing the employee. Illustrate problematic behaviors and actions so the employee has a good idea of what you are bringing up.

Don’t Make It Personal

“Focus on actions, not the person,” Charlie Harary says in Entrepreneur. You should be focusing on what the employee is doing and how to improve, not the employee’s personality. For instance, there is a difference between calling an employee disorganized and pointing out how the employee isn’t as structured as needed. The former makes an assumption about the person.

Don’t Forget the Positive

When it is relevant to your feedback, you should include positive aspects of the employee’s performance. By highlighting an employee’s strengths, you can help the worker understand what he or she is doing well while pointing out areas of improvement. All of this forms a cohesive unit of feedback for a specific topic.

Beware of including positive feedback for the sake of keeping things positive. Positive feedback can help the employee become more receptive to constructive criticism, but it should not be the reason why you offer compliments and praise. It’s similar to the rationale behind avoiding the “compliment sandwich” — or sandwiching negative feedback between two pieces of positive feedback. These strategies are an insincere way of discussing feedback with an employee.

Provide Ideas for Improvement

Provide examples of the employee’s behavior and how the person could have handled the situation.

“When it comes to helping an employee improve his or her performance, explaining to the employee what he or she did wrong is only half of the equation,” according to the New York City Bar Association. “It is crucial for the manager to be prepared with concrete examples of how the employee could have handled past problems better, as well as solutions for how the employee can deal with similar situations in the future.”

Make It a Conversation

Giving constructive criticism in the workplace is an opportunity to coach and guide an employee. If an employee is going to understand what you have to say and how he or she can improve, it needs to be a dialogue. The employee should be able to explain his or her side of the story and ask questions about how to improve. Sometimes you’ll learn something that will help you tailor your feedback and advice to the employee.

Helping Employees Develop

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