At some point in your life – – whether it’s at work, school or otherwise – – you will be faced with some form of constructive criticism. Perhaps it’s during an annual performance review, with a coworker or boss or it could even come in the form of some kind of disciplinary action, such as a verbal or written warning. It can be difficult to be criticized by others, especially in situations where you genuinely tried your best or thought you were giving your best effort.
Here are some tips for remaining positive during situations where you may be criticized.
- Criticism is a Form of Feedback. One of the hardest things about criticism is trying not to take the criticism personally. If the criticism is coming from an employer, realize that the criticism comes from a desire to be a successful and profitable business. The issue is not with you as a person, but perhaps your lack of results in your job performance. It does not mean you’re not smart. It does not mean you’re not a hard worker. It does not mean that you’re not good at your job. It just means that they want to see specific changes in your actions to get the results that they want. Once you can filter out the criticisms and take the direct message about what it is that they want and are looking for from it, you’re already going to be one step closer to heading in the right direction.
- Sit Down and List Your Strengths. Whenever you receive criticism, it can be really easy to start getting down on yourself and start thinking about the things that you’re not good at. This is one of the worst things that you can do at this point. Instead, pull out a notepad and pen and write down a list of all of your strengths. What are you really good at? What tasks come naturally and easy for you?
- Take the Criticism as a Challenge. Constructive criticism in the workplace can be fueled for either further office gossip, negative emotional outbreaks or it can be turned around to be taken as a challenge to step up to the plate. Rather than feeling sorry for yourself or angry at the criticism you received, take it as a challenge for improvement and to show your boss or coworker that you’re capable of meeting the expectations they have of you.
- Ask Questions. If all you receive is negative feedback about what you did not do right, ask questions about what it is that you can do to improve and do better. As noted in Tip #3 above, take it as a challenge to improve. However, if it’s unclear what it is that is expected of you, then how can you possibly improve? Find out what it is that you specifically are (or aren’t) doing that needs to be addressed. Once you know this, it will be easier to move on from the criticism and put together a plan of action.
- Surround Yourself with Supportive Friends & Family. Spend some time with supportive friends, family or even coworkers that can provide you the reassurance and support you may need during times where you might be feeling down about being criticized. Use your time with your support system as an opportunity to take a break from the negative thoughts and use it to help you laugh a little bit and keep your spirits up.
Constructive criticism is a part of life and the more you can master the ability to take constructive criticism and not let it spiral a series of negative or down thoughts for yourself inside, the better. That being said, we leave you with these parting wise words from Dale Carnegie: “Feeling sorry for yourself, and your present condition, is not only a waste of energy but the worst habit you could possibly have.”
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