Taking Constructive Criticism Like a Champ
We have all experienced criticism at some point or the other in our lives — whether it maybe at school, at home, or at work. Criticism can manifest in various forms such as — Destructive Criticism, Practical Criticism, Positive Criticism, or Constructive Criticism.
No matter the type of criticism we receive, it always feels like a bummer to be told exactly what to do when we don’t want to hear it. However, criticism, when taken in the right spirit, can improve our weaknesses and help raise our performance standards to a whole new level.
In the following sections, we will focus on “Constructive Criticism” and learn a few tricks to prepare our mind to handle well-reasoned opinions.
UNDERSTANDING CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM
What is “Constructive Criticism”?
Let’s say you were offered a project that involved creating an exceptional pitch to attract foreign investors to your company. You are bound to feel ecstatic about presenting it to your boss and fellow colleagues. However, on the “D-day” your boss seems less impressed and fails to see your vision, he instead provides you with ways to improve the subject matter and in turn demoralizes you.
It’s only natural for you to be disappointed and accept the fact that you weren’t the best person suited for the job. Although this scenario seems depressing, it’s critical to understand your boss’s viewpoint and why he chose to give you “these” suggestions. He may have noticed a vast potential in you and criticizing you could be the only way to grow your potential by identifying your weaknesses and improving on it.
Constructive criticism should be strictly seen as a set of instructions meant to hone your talents rather than as a weapon that cripples your goals and aspirations.
Constructive Criticism and its Core Guidelines
Constructive criticism can easily be mixed up with other forms of criticism depending on the frame of mind that you receive it in.
As a working professional, it’s important to understand the main factors that contribute to constructive criticism to maintain a healthy work relationship with your peers. Here are a few key factors that an essential part of constructive criticism.
Constructive criticism is always meant to drive your ambitions and enable growth. Any criticism that does not follow this pattern is no longer constructive and can be considered negative feedback.
If your boss mentions areas of improvement and what your strengths are instead of finding a reason to tip you over, you can be rest-assured that the feedback you receive is incredibly valuable for your career prospects.
Focus on the Current Topic Rather Than Previous Blunders
If your boss repeatedly mentions your past mistakes and pinpoints at how you manage to goof up all the time, it’s time to start looking for a new job with better role models.
Constructive criticism places an immense spotlight on the topic-in-hand rather than things of the past, it’s important for opinions to be focused on your current situation.
No Room for Personal Agenda
Personal attacks made by your seniors can eventually snowball into a grief-stricken environment that no longer functions as a creative workplace. Constructive criticism is meant to be objective-based rather than subjective and hence, anyone offering feedback should do so while eliminating preconceived emotional and personal feelings that they have about you.
Here’s an informative video that shows you the right way to accept positive feedback.
Constructive Criticism Focuses on Improving Behavior
Ever heard the phrase — “When criticized, consider the source.”?
For you to grow as an individual, it’s crucial to consider the kind of role models you surround yourself with. An aggressive boss or a jealous colleague may try to drain your positive vibes by stating false facts about yourself. Therefore, it’s necessary to determine the difference between healthy criticism and negative flak to get a better hold on your emotions.
Always remember that constructive criticism is offered to boost your effectiveness and not the other way around. Good feedback can enable you to make appropriate changes to your behavior and personality which can go a long way in helping you tackle problems in the future.
What are some examples of Constructive Criticism?
Now that we understand what constructive criticism means, it’s time to list a few real-life scenarios to determine the difference between constructive criticism and negative criticism.
Example 1: Your friend Sam is late to meet you at the park for a session of softball practice. Educate him on the importance of punctuality.
Constructive Criticism: “Sam, I would really appreciate it if you would value my time and yours as well by reaching all future sessions of softball on time. Of course, I can totally understand if you were held back due to an emergency but do let me know through a phone call prior to showing up late, Thank you.”
The following example shows the importance of being patient with your friend while showing him the importance of punctuality in a calm and polite manner. It has been proven that constructive criticism can motivate people into achieving their goals compared to any other form of criticism.
Negative Criticism: “Sam, I have had it with you and your untimely behavior! My time is extremely important, and I demand you show up on time for all forthcoming softball sessions. That is,if you intend to value our friendship.”
By losing your temper in the 2nd instance you not only put your valuable friendship on the line, but you showcase how your time is more valuable than his. Although constructive criticism often takes the form of an angry discussion, it’s by no means acceptable for anger to play a major role in a healthy discussion.
Example 2: The head coach of a baseball team reacting to his players after they just lost the finals.
Constructive Criticism: “Well boys, it was indeed a great game and I am sure you all gave it your best but to improve your winning run it’s important to show up early for practice and give it your 100%. From here on forward, I want to see every one of you make the final as the winning team.”
A brilliant speech! The coach in this scenario understands that his players gave it their best and are feeling miserable after a loss. He boosts their morale while also promoting the importance of competitiveness in all the upcoming games.
Negative Criticism: “The whole lot of you are absolutely talentless and it’s a complete waste of my time to have trained you for the entire year. It’s time to pack up your bags and make way for fresh new talent.”
The coach in this scenario shows selfishness in achieving victory over the emotions of his team. He goes as far as to blame his players for the defeat while threatening to relieve them of their positions. Criticism that is based off emotions and personal motives isn’t considered constructive criticism.
As a visual guide, the following video covers the main difference between healthy and negative criticism.
BENEFITS OF CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM AND HOW IT CAN BRING OUT THE BEST IN YOU
Utilizing constructive criticism to your advantage can help sharpen your skill set and morph them into potent and effective abilities. The following benefits can be acquired as an individual that accepts constructive criticism without being defensive.
Constructive Criticism Can Convert your Weakest Element into Your Strongest Link
Handling criticism can seem like a struggle at first yet it’s an unavoidable process to nurture growth and personal development in the lives of every working professional. By consistently incorporating the tips and advice received, you kickstart a productive process within yourself to achieve perfection in every task that you perform.
Although constructive criticism is mostly given out with the best of intent, it sometimes can come across as arrogant and narcissistic. In these times, it’s critical to follow up the matter with patience and clarify any outstanding issues through healthy and positive discussion. This type of behavior can ring well with your office mates and emotionally strengthen you.
Gain New Insights and Perspectives from Constructive Criticism
Constructive criticism is a form of communication that allows the person you are working for to offer honest opinions about yourself. Take criticism as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and utilize this new-found knowledge to attain a competitive edge over your peers.
For example, you may be struggling with a mental block about not being able to complete a difficult project by yourself. With the right advice, you would be surprised at how easy you were able to accomplish the task and set yourself a new peak that you didn’t believe existed within you.
Constructive criticism is all about working towards a better outcome and to gain insight into understanding the product or audience better.
Ability to Handle Constructive Criticism Shows a Real Winner Among Peers
“Keep your mind strong and your body will follow” — Never has there been a truer statement that represents constructive criticism as the following quote.
A strong mind that can deflect the negativity of criticism while appreciating the positivity it brings showcases prowess and the ability to accomplish even the most difficult of tasks. Co-workers and office acquaintances will appreciate the manner in which you are able to accept your flaws and work on them without any complaints.
Constructive criticism offers you an opportunity to demonstrate to your peers that you are willing to handle difficult situations with a smile on your face.
5 TIPS THAT CAN HELP ABSORB CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM BETTER IN THE LONG RUN
While criticism in any form is a hard pill to swallow, it’s important to stay focused on the positive aspects that are bestowed upon you. Here are a few ways to mentally prepare yourself to tackle constructive criticism without allowing it to fester into negative feedback.
1. Don’t Take Constructive Criticism as a Personal Attack
We have all been at the receiving end of a tense encounter with our boss at some point in our professional lives. It starts with the same tell-tale signs — your heart beat quickens while your mind tries to rationalize the current situation, by the end of it, you are embarrassed and feel violated by the words you just experienced.
After every heated encounter, it’s important to take a moment for yourself and collect your thoughts. Remember to keep yourself calm and avoid over-analyzing the situation by not playing the events back-to-back in your head. Allow your brain to function normally and understand that whatever was said about you wasn’t meant personally and was purely to motivate you to work harder.
Under any circumstances, it’s important to avoid retaliating back which can cause irreparable damage to your career prospects. Politely, excuse yourself and leave the room to conclude your business partnership on a positive note.
2. Reflect on Your Former Blunders
As humans, we are prone to committing mistakes frequently but to avoid criticism it’s important to learn from our previous lapses and commit ourselves to change.
Let’s say your boss gave you a mouthful for not bringing the scheduled report on time, make it a point to note it down and ensure you never miss an important event ever again.
Preventing mistakes shows the right spirit for a candidate that is suited for better and brighter things. By showing improvement from an earlier criticism, you prove to your boss that you have all the skills necessary to handle bigger things and a promotion may be in sight.
Failure can be discouraging but it’s important to face your fears and understand that repeated failures can mean getting replaced and hence, constructive criticism can act as a reality check to those employees who take things for granted and get comfortable over a period.
3. Request Specifics to Identify the Oversight
One of the most common mistakes committed by working professionals is to never ask the person criticizing you for ways to improve. Asking questions and listening attentively to your seniors is a good way to ensure you develop positive work ethics while minimizing mistakes.
If you are confused on being criticized in the first place, it helps to politely ask the person to explain in detail the subject matter in question. Most employers and managers are more than happy to provide you with the requested information and would be delighted to walk you through the product a 2nd time.
Remember to always clear your doubts before you show yourself out, it can keep your mind free from negative thoughts. If a deadline feels too unrealistic, have a discussion with your peers and seniors, if there is a heavy workload that you are unable to finish, take a step back and create a plan.
Communication is the key to achieving your goals, it’s important to always ask your boss on the type of standard he expects from you. Always substitute curiosity for defensiveness to accept constructive criticism with ease.
4. Detach yourself from the Situation
Clearing your head after a rough day at work can positively affect the way you receive constructive criticism. A simple stroll in the park can provide all the necessary oxygen to your lungs and help disperse the pent up negative energy while keeping your mind at ease. An energetic mind has a positive outcome in your work life and it can help counter the effects of nervousness and fear during your next presentation.
Ideally, music can help you relax and block out the negative thoughts that slip in after a nasty board meeting. Take a few minutes off your work schedule to work up an appetite, a hungry stomach is a breeding place for anxiety, having a bite or two can keep jitters at bay.
Whenever you feel the need to react defensively, remove yourself from the environment and take a break, it will help cool you down and it will promote a progressive approach to handling office politics.
5. Above All Stay Positive
The single most important rule to success is to keep at it without giving up. Constructive criticism is a useful tool to strategize skill improvement and gain the encouragement of your peers. A positive personality has all the winning ingredients to enlist you as the employee-of-the-month candidate.
Most major corporations and companies around the world seek to hire candidates with the ability to handle criticism apart from the usual skill sets required for the job. It’s important to develop abilities such as patience, attentiveness, and the skill to accept constructive criticism to survive the big bad corporate world.
Once you have experienced the joy of receiving feedback from other experienced individuals, you will naturally learn to accept constructive criticism as an instrument for achieving great triumph and success.
The video below goes through the basic guidelines on accepting constructive criticism as an effective development tool.
Constructive criticism can seem like the big bad brother of encouragement but there are a few differences between the two that set them apart. Constructive criticism is harsher and focuses on pursuing growth and development while encouragement can often be misrepresented into a friendly discussion without anyone taking the subject seriously.
Constructive criticism is necessary for bonding and to sustain a professional workplace. The lack of such criticism prevents collaboration and the exchange of ideas which can prove detrimental to the company. The next time you are selected to be the proud recipient of constructive criticism, take it with a smile and positive attitude.