What is constructive criticism?
Many people are not born with that trait; throughout their careers, they struggle with receiving feedback, even when it is entirely accurate. The moment they hear the words, their heartbeat quickens, and their mind begins to race—first in search of an explanation for whatever actions are in question.
Unfortunately, many of us react protectively and angrily—or, worse—attack the person delivering the feedback—in the heat of the moment. But the fact is that we must move past it.
We are aware of the need for constructive criticism since only by identifying our limitations will we be able to sustain our relationships and improve our performance in whatever we do.
We all love to see people who can politely take constructive criticism. So how can you train yourself to stop being aggressive?
Use this six-step procedure the next time you receive constructive criticism from a manager or peer to address the situation diplomatically.
1. Stay calm
Before you take any action, halt when you first notice criticism. Avoid any reaction at all!
There will be at least one second for you to control your response. One second may seem little in real life, yet it gives your brain plenty of time to evaluate a scenario. You can stop yourself from making a dismissive gesture or an angry remark and tell yourself to remain composed.
2. Keep in Mind the Rewards of Receiving feedback
After at least one second pause, you have a brief window of time to rapidly remind yourself of the advantages of hearing constructive criticism. It helps you develop your abilities to produce better work, strengthen your connections, and help you live up to the standards set by others and your management.
The best approach is to manage how you respond to the individual giving the feedback. Receiving criticism from a coworker, peer, or someone you don’t entirely respect might be difficult, but remember that accurate and constructive feedback often yields helpful advice.
3. Pay close attention to understand
High-five! You’ve refrained from your usual response, your brain is active, and you’ve remembered all the advantages of feedback.
Now that you’re ready, you can participate in a constructive conversation in your knowledgeable, kind manner (as opposed to your combative, Mean self).
Pay close attention as they provide you with feedback. Allow the speaker time to finish their thoughts without being interrupted. Restate what you heard back to them after they’re finished.
For instance, “I hear you saying that you want me to give you more comprehensive weekly reports; is that correct?” Avoid analyzing or contesting the person’s assessment at this point; concentrate on correctly understanding their remarks and viewpoint.
And assume the best in this case—hey, providing feedback to another person is challenging. Please recognize that the person giving you feedback may be nervous or may not express their ideas perfectly.
4. Say Thank You
Next (and this is a tricky part, I know), thank the person for sharing their feedback with you by looking them in the eyes. Be deliberate and say, “I appreciate you taking the time to discuss this with me.” Expressing appreciation doesn’t have to mean you agree with the assessment. Still, it shows that you’re acknowledging your colleague’s effort to evaluate you and share their opinions.
5. Deconstruct the feedback by asking questions.
It’s vital to think about the remarks. You’ll probably want to clarify things and offer your point of view. Avoid getting into a discussion; ask questions to elucidate the difficulties at hand and potential fixes. Here are a few strategies for deconstructing criticism. For instance, if a coworker claims that you became a bit heated during a meeting: Look for instances to better understand the concern: “Can you tell me when you thought I got heated in the meeting?” “I was a little frustrated.”
Acknowledge the feedback that is not disputed: “You’re right that he was talking when I interrupted him, and I afterward apologized.
Consider whether this is an isolated issue (for instance, a past error you made): “Have you seen me getting heated in other meetings before?”
Respond to the criticism with specific solutions: “I’d love to hear your suggestions on how I may handle this differently in the future.”
6. Request Follow-Up Time
Hopefully, by this time in the discussion, you can reach a consensus on the issues raised. You can end the conversation and move on once you’ve explained what you’ll do moving forward and thank the person for their comments.
That said, if it’s a more significant issue or something your employer has brought up, you could want to request a follow-up meeting to ask additional questions and come to an agreement on the next steps or the course of action. That’s okay because it will give you time to consider the criticism, ask for help from others, and come up with solutions.
In conclusion, constructive criticism is often the only way we learn about our weaknesses—without it; we can’t improve. When we’re defensive, we risk missing out on this vital insight. Remember, feedback is challenging to give and even harder to receive, but doing so will benefit us in the long run.
"Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence." – Abigail Adams