by Laura Gibbons
At some point or another in your professional life, you will probably find yourself on the receiving end of some form of criticism. Criticism can be delivered in constructive or non-constructive ways. The objective of constructive criticism is to help someone improve their performance or skills while the goal of non-constructive criticism is usually just to focus on a person’s flaws. Most people struggle with negative feedback, even when it is in the form of constructive criticism, because we have a natural tendency to believe that we are doing things right even when we are not. People often react to constructive criticism by becoming angry and defensive. While this feeling may be natural, it is not professional, and will not help you exceed in your career or improve your job performance. Here are our top 5 tips to handle constructive criticism while at work.
1- Recognize the benefits. The goal of constructive criticism is usually to help improve a person’s job performance or help them meet specific expectations. Constructive criticism can help you improve your skills, increase the quality of your work, meet or exceed expectations, and improve relationships with your boss or co-workers. It can also help you see things from a new perspective. Constructive criticism can actually put you at an advantage over your peers because you will be clear on your boss’ expectations and will know how to meet and exceed them.
2- Listen without interrupting. Try to listen (without reacting) to everything that is being said. Don’t interrupt when something is said that you don’t necessarily agree with. Listen with an open mind and don’t dismiss their words without thinking them over. Allow the person to finish speaking before you respond.
3- Don’t get defensive. It is natural to get defensive whenever something is said about you that may not be very flattering. Your first reaction may be to make excuses for your behavior or job performance or to flat out deny whatever is being said about you. This response won’t benefit you in the long run. If you find yourself getting defensive, take a second or two to breathe and calm your mind.
4- Repeat back what you heard. Take this opportunity to repeat back what you heard from the conversation. Since emotions may be running a bit high during these conversations, it is possible that you may have missed or misinterpreted some of the points that the other person was trying to make. This is the ideal time to confirm that you heard and correctly interpreted the main points. This is also a great time to ask any clarifying questions or ask for examples. Make sure that you are clear on the points and understand the expectations.
5- Ask for a follow up meeting. Once you feel as though you have made significant improvements, set up some time with your manager to review your performance. It is not enough for you to feel as though you have improved. You will want to confirm that they have seen the improvements as well and that you are now on the right track to meet their expectations.
Try our top 5 tips to handle constructive criticism at work. What else has worked for you? Write your thoughts or tips in the comment section below.
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About the Author:
Laura Gibbons is the founder of 9to5SurvivalGuide.com. Laura has survived 12+ years in the corporate retail environment. She has dealt with difficult co-workers, impossible bosses, and stressful work environments. She now shares her insights and expertise on career advancement and 9 to 5 survival through her website.