Is it possible that the words “constructive criticism” were just uttered? Great, exactly what I need—someone to tell me how to do my work, as if I don’t know how to do it beautifully. Well, maybe not flawlessly, but thank you very much, I believe I know what I’m doing.
Many people react in this way when they hear the term “constructive criticism.” It’s understandable, given that most of us dislike being told how we did something wrong or how we can improve.
Unless, of course, we are attempting something new, we like to feel like we are good at the things we choose to do. We take pleasure in how we perform our various tasks and don’t appreciate it when our flaws are pointed out to us.
Let’s have a look at what constructive criticism is and how we can use it to help us better at work or wherever we want to improve before we get too fired up. We will discover how to use constructive criticism to our advantage.
What Is Constructive Criticism?
First and foremost, we should ensure that we have a clear grasp of what constitutes constructive criticism.
When we hear the word “criticism,” we usually associate it with something negative and confrontational, as if someone is looming over another person telling them that their way of doing something is incorrect. And that is what it is to be critical.
However, constructive criticism is not meant to be used in this way. Constructive criticism is a useful form of feedback that includes clear and concrete recommendations.
Constructive criticism is unique to the acts and situation, rather than one individual acting as a manager offering a team member general non-specific counsel.
It provides explicit and clear ideas on how to make changes and improvements that will result in a more positive outcome in a particular circumstance when used effectively.
Accepting Constructive Criticism
As we’ve just seen, constructive criticism is given in order to assist someone better in some way. It’s not just harsh generalizations or whining; it’s precise actionable advice given with the goal of helping someone improve on what they’ve done in the past so they can get better results next time.
This is precisely the situation in which constructive criticism should be accepted. Its purpose is to assist you in becoming better. Anyone who wants to get better at their career or craft should take advantage of it.
Consider a time when you had a significant win at work or were a part of a team that did.
What an amazing sensation! Consider a moment when a significant project at work went wrong, or you didn’t acquire a big new customer, or your team performed poorly and lost a big game—not a pleasant experience.
Receiving constructive criticism is similar to how you accept defeats and learn from them in order to improve and score more “wins.” To make things go well more often, learn from what went wrong.
How to Handle Constructive Criticism
Now that we have a clear idea of what constructive criticism is, let’s look at the best ways to handle constructive criticism.
1. Stop Your Initial Reaction
Recognize when you’re about to be the target of some criticism. Make yourself aware of what is about to occur and resolve not to respond.
When your brain recognizes what’s about to happen, the goal is to stop any kind of reaction you might have. The problem is that our initial reaction isn’t always positive, and we don’t want to come out as defensive or furious.
2. Don’t Take It Personally
I’m very happy that I totally accept and believe in the philosophy of “don’t take anything personally.” It’s critical to realize that no one is attempting to harm you specifically. They’re sharing what they’ve learned and observed, as well as their personal experiences and insights.
This does not imply that it is universally correct; rather, it is how they have experienced it. And we’ve all had various experiences, so every one of our perspectives is unique. It isn’t about you; it is about the circumstances. Don’t take anything too seriously.
3. Remember the Benefit
When your first instinct is to say “no,” this is a fantastic thing to do. Receiving constructive criticism might assist you in becoming a better person. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to take in and implement each and every recommendation word for word.
Take the portions that speak to you and apply them the next time you’re in a similar circumstance. This is how we grow and learn.
4. Listen to Understand
Make sure you’re paying attention to the speaker’s words as well as his or her body language. You’re seeking to comprehend everything so that you can properly digest and apply the criticism in the future. Maintain your focus on the speaker and be present in the moment of receiving comments.
5. Be Thankful
When someone tells you how you could have done something better, it’s difficult to be grateful. “Thank you for taking the time to give the criticism,” you say, as you put on your “big person trousers.”
They most certainly want the best for you, if you think about it.
Why would someone take the time to share their thoughts and opinions with you if they didn’t want to? Why would they take the time if they didn’t care or have a vested interest? Exactly. When expressing thank you, keep this in mind.
6. Ask Questions to Understand Fully
This is when you should ask clarifying questions to ensure that you fully comprehend what the other person is saying. Check to see if you and what they’re saying are on the same page.
If you don’t take the time to ask questions and clear up any misunderstandings, this feedback will be of little use to you in the long term.
Using Criticisms to Improve
Now, let’s look at how constructive criticism may help us improve. As we’ve seen, assessing when things don’t go as planned and analyzing why things didn’t go as planned can help us figure out how to adjust what we did in the future to get better results.
1. Feedback Is Always Helpful
The first step in using constructive criticism to help you develop is to recognize that feedback is always beneficial. This isn’t to say that all feedback will be beneficial to you. It simply indicates that it is beneficial.
It’s fine if you completely disagree with some of the input you receive. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is always beneficial. Gathering information, examining it, and listening to others might help you see things from a different perspective.
2. You Get Another Point of View
Listening to someone who gives you constructive criticism is beneficial since it provides you with a different perspective. Too often, we make decisions based only on our own views of a situation. It’s entirely conceivable to get so close to something that you fail to perceive it objectively.
I know how easily I could become engrossed in a project or painting when I was a working artist. When I finally took a break and asked someone else what they thought, they often pointed out aspects I hadn’t observed or considered. The same principle applies in this case.
3. It Shows You Are Worth It
When someone takes the time to give you constructive criticism, it demonstrates that they care about you and believe you are valuable.
They wouldn’t bother if they didn’t think it would make a difference or if they didn’t think you were worth it. This is something to consider the next time your boss offers you some advice or insight.
4. It Helps You Improve
It can immensely benefit you if you are willing to sincerely listen to constructive feedback. I recall a number of occasions when I’ve received helpful criticism and feedback. It is well known that I am the one who invites it.
I see it this way: we’re all on the same team (whether it’s a real one or a work one) and attempting to achieve the same goal.
What can I do to improve my performance so that we can all win as a team? I like to think I’m fairly competent at what I do. I also recognize that I can constantly improve. Assist me in assisting you, which benefits both of us.
5. It Can Inspire You
Finally, constructive criticism has the ability to motivate you. Sometimes the individual giving you feedback will make you see something about yourself that you never saw before.
This is why having a different point of view may be so beneficial. This can be really eye-opening, and it can even lead to an “Aha!” moment.
We’ve discussed constructive criticism and how to deal with it. We’ve seen how allowing oneself to listen to and accept comments can be extremely beneficial to our growth and improvement.
Constructive criticism can assist us in improving our skills. Not to mention, we’ve figured out how to take constructive criticism in stride.
Remember that receiving input from others is vital to our personal development in many aspects. Make use of constructive criticism to help you grow.