Although it is never pleasant, learning how to accept criticism in the workplace is important to grow yourself. If all you receive is praise and compliments, it will be difficult to know what you can and should change. When you respond well, you will be
The next time someone gives you negative feedback, act on these six steps to better accept it:
1. Listen without interrupting: It is difficult to listen to something that sounds negative about your performance or behavior, but when you do it without interrupting, you are relaying to the other person that you are teachable. And no matter how skilled you are, no matter what level of leadership you are, you are showing the other person that you respect what they have to say.
2. Be aware of your body language: Because the person relaying the information knows it can be received negatively, they will be hyper aware of your facial expressions, your eye contact and your body language. If you have a “thinking face” while they are talking will likely be received as irritation or discomfort. Just as you don’t want to interrupt verbally, don’t interrupt their message with negative body language.
3. Even if you disagree, look for the truth: Business leader Kat Kole once said, “Anytime you are criticized, accept that there is a seed of truth in it.”. No matter if you disagree, there is probably a sliver of truth in the criticism, so look for it to make progress.
4. Respond with humility: Many times when people are delivering less than positive feedback or criticism, they expect that they may be met with either defensiveness or an excuse. If they are met instead with quiet humility, it calms the entire dialogue. I remember giving someone constructive criticism who had a very strong personality, and I expected that I would have to defend my assertions. Instead, she calmly asked for more specifics, and then said, “you are right.” As a result, my respect for her increased immensely.
5. Thank the person giving you the feedback: Although it may not seem like it, it is many times more uncomfortable for the person giving the criticism than it is for you, the receiver. Think about it. They know what they are going to say, but they do not know how you will react. So even if you are caught off guard, they also are entering the dialogue with some uncertainty. After you have processed the information, if you determine that it is truly meant to help you in the long-run even if it stings in the short-run, then you owe the person a thank you. Consider it a gift to help make you better, even if you have to swallow your pride to receive that gift.
6. Make changes and initiate a future conversation: Have you ever been on the giving end of constructive criticism only to not see any movement towards change as a result? Or to see movement in the short-term only? This can cause increased frustration, because the person is now aware of what needs to be changed, but they are not committed to making the change. Commit to use the gift of criticism that the person has given you, and at some point, initiate a conversation with the person at a later date to get their feedback on how you have changed. By taking the initiative, it shows confidence and shows that you care.