Wise people have learned how to handle criticism. They deal with it like any other feedback, calmly and judiciously. They try and see how they can use it to get ahead and meet their goals. Many people, however; find it hard not to react defensively or angrily. Some people even launch a counterattack and shift the blame to the critic. That behavior doesn’t win you any friends or help you get ahead.
Criticism is a fact of life, and the sooner you learn to handle it positively, the better you can use that feedback for your own success.
1. Before you React – Stop!
You will feel the reaction in your body before you can get the words out. And that is where you must stop. Don’t do anything, just breathe and take a moment to calm your defenses. Chances are, the other person won’t notice a thing, but it will give you time to compose yourself.
2. Remind Yourself that This is Feedback
Your composure time gives you a chance to remember that this criticism is an opportunity to learn something, possibly something valuable. Say to yourself, “This is not personal,” and repeat it as often as you need to until your initial reaction has passed.
3. Practice Your Active Listening
Feedback time is not a time to talk, it’s a time to listen. Try to understand what the other person is saying. Maybe it’s an aspect of your project or goal that you haven’t thought of yet. What initially feels like criticism may offer valuable insight.
Repeat back what you heard and seek clarification if you need to. This is not a time to analyze or push back, it’s a time to understand precisely what is being said.
4. Thank Your Critic
Even if it makes you cringe inside, say thank you for the feedback. You don’t have to agree with what they’ve said to be sincerely appreciative of the input. After all, they took the time to say what they thought and give you some advice.
5. Process the Feedback
You may need some time to do this, or you might be able to do it on the spot. If your emotions are running high, it’s probably better to take a break and come back to deal with what has been said. Otherwise, it’s fine to ask questions to clarify the feedback, and maybe seek their suggestions on how to move forward.
Learning to deal constructively with criticism and feedback is an important skill, and one you will be glad you learned sooner rather than later.