No one likes to be criticized. But when we reflect back on important moments in our life, they were often the result of someone’s criticism. Criticism can be crucial to anyone’s professional development. There will be very little improvement without criticism.
Your harshest critics are often those who care about you the most (e.g. your family, a close friend). It’s more difficult for someone who doesn’t know you well to be a critic, especially when you act inappropriately to criticism.
The first step to handling criticism is to understand when criticism is meant to be helpful and when it is harmful.
|Criticism is helpful when it
|Criticism is harmful when it is
|■ Contains an improvement suggestion
|■ Meant to lower your self-esteem
|■ Is not personal
|■ Behind your back
|■ Is honest
|■ Is tough
|■ Is hopeful
You can turn criticism into a positive experience when you follow the approach described below:
- Respond to the criticism by thanking your critic and indicate that you will try to do better. Ask for your critic’s suggestions.
- Wait for a period of time (e.g., one day) to reflect on what you heard. – This will allow you to view the criticism more objectively.
- Develop a plan to address the criticism with specific actions to be taken. – This is when you break out of your denial.
- Review your plan with your critic.- This helps develop a sense of ownership with your critic.
- Carry out your plan.
- Give your critic periodic progress reports. – This shows that you really want to make an improvement
The essential element in any approach to accepting criticism is to acknowledge that the criticism was meant to help you..