Most people do not want to be told they are doing a bad job. It can be hard to listen to someone give you a list of ways you could be better. Especially if you consider yourself to be a manly man, you might think you are too good for the advice of anyone else.
But, criticism does not have to be bad. Criticism is simply evaluation or judgment, bad or good. It can come from anyone – brother, sister, parents, friends, and co-workers.
Criticism can be hard to hear at times, but it can also be incredibly beneficial to both an individual and a company. Some people have no problem with criticism and might even enjoy it, while others – typically those who have lower self-esteem – are hurt by criticism. However, as long as it is done in a constructive way, criticism will help you better yourself or your company. Constructive criticism offers insight into the way your words and actions are perceived by others.
Many people often fear criticism and are sensitive to it, even if it is constructive. The combination of anxiety, low self-esteem and the fear of receiving bad criticism often makes people reject constructive criticism. Constructive criticism might come in an area that you feel you have already mastered, or it might just be in an area that you do not care to improve in therefore you are not open to constructive criticism. Especially in the event of a tense situation, such as addiction recovery, it can be difficult to accept advice for improving yourself and your lifestyle. Fear of criticism could even cause some people to give up. You fear if you keep trying you might be criticized at some point, therefore you stop working toward your goal to avoid that scenario.
Constructive criticism can also be applied to a business scenario. Businesses can receive constructive criticism from a variety of avenues – via customer reviews, other business owners or companies that review businesses. Interestingly, I was buying some hockey skates last month and, as every customer, was looking from some hockey skates review or an opinion from other customers on the Internet. While not all reviews are always laid out the best way, it is easy to find constructive criticism in reviews. Oftentimes, people leave a review because the experience was great or terrible – rarely do people leave reviews for a mediocre experience. When consumers leave a review they usually offer criticism without even trying. For example, they might say they were unhappy because their drink was not cold enough; this could be taken as your servers need to use more ice or you should ice your drinks for longer prior to serving. However, keep in mind there is a difference between constructive criticism and just criticism. Constructive criticism offers thoughtful feedback, while criticism is just a complaint.
Constructive criticism can be received in a variety of ways – you can ignore it, use it to improve, or use it to form a new idea. Sometimes, you might receive constructive criticism but no option for improvement. You might be told what you are doing wrong, but not how you can fix it. Therefore, you would be left to come up with your own idea. Other times, someone might offer you the problem and the solution. Then, it is up to you whether or not to accept that idea for improvement.
There are ways to deal with criticism and get the most out of it. It takes an open mind and patience, but once you decide to conquer your fear of criticism, you can see great improvement in your life.
The remainder of this article will offer some insight into how to deal with criticism and get the most out of it.
The first step to dealing with criticism is simply listening to it. Decipher if the criticism offered is constructive or just rude. While it might sound like a stab at your personality, it might actually be the difference between saving your relationship or saving your job. Before you get defensive, consider if the person is actually just trying to help you better yourself.
2. Pause and respond calmly.
Don’t take the criticism personally. Don’t focus on the fact that it is being said to you, focus on the situation at hand. Once you step back from the situation and consider the goal of the criticism, respond in a calm manner and be respectful – even if you disagree with the criticism. If the critique is uncalled for, simply smile and move on. Otherwise, take advantage of the advice and put it to good use. Try to avoid reacting negatively to the person giving the criticism and just consider what they are saying, not who they are. (Read This: The Event Doesn’t Matter. Your Reaction to it Does.)
3. Manage your stress.
Take a deep breath and manage your emotions. When you are presented with criticism, it can be easy to immediately get upset and not realize the person might be right.
4. Ask questions about the criticism.
This is another reason why managing your stress and responding calmly is so important – there is a chance you could have misunderstood what they were trying to say. Ask questions to ensure you understand and to get all the details they are willing to provide. You might find the criticism even more beneficial once you dive deeper into the criticism being offered.
5. Say “thank you” for the feedback.
Let the other person know you appreciate their insight into the situation. Even if you do not accept the criticism, it is still considerate to thank them for their time and insight. You want to avoid burning any bridges and this lets them know that you at least heard what they had to say and value their efforts.
6. Ask for time to follow up on the criticism.
A follow up gives you time to consider the criticism, decide how you will handle it and respond appropriately. Consider the advice offered to you and if it works for you. While considering the criticism, weigh out the pro’s and con’s and try to see the situation from the other person’s view. Oftentimes, it can be hard to see how changing your ways or actions could be beneficial because you already feel you are doing the right thing.
7. Ponder the value of feedback.
Constructive criticism helps you become a better man. It will help you improve your skills, your product, your relationships and even help you reach higher expectations.
While it can be hard to hear constructive criticism from anyone, especially a peer, keep in mind that they see things from the outside. They can see the situation through a different view then you are.
8. Embrace it.
Accept that you are not perfect – nobody is. Think of some of the greatest people you know, they did not get to where they are today by ignoring all the constructive criticism you ever received. Focus on changing your perspective of yourself and the criticism you are receiving.
Make a list of a few of your known flaws. Does the constructive criticism relate to those? This exercise is a great way to see the areas in your life that constructive criticism is necessary and can readily be applied to. Also, take this time to work on being less sensitive. You will be more upset if you never improve than you would be by just listening to the constructive criticism being offered.
9. Make a game plan for applying it.
Once you have analyzed it, taken a step back to take away your emotions and pondered the feedback, make a game plan for how you will apply it to your life. Do a little more research and consider what will be the best method for you. You will be the most productive if you construct a plan for applying the criticism in a way you know will work best for you and one you will stick with.
Constructive criticism is how we better ourselves. It is how we meet expectations and improve our relationships and outcomes. Sometimes, we can be our own critic, but it is also important to receive constructive criticism from others as well. This is the only way to learn about our weaknesses, therefore it is the only way we can improve. Remember, while feedback is not easy to receive, it is not always easy to give either. Most of the time, as long as the criticism is constructive, the person giving it is a little hesitant. But, they want you to better yourself, therefore they are offering their insight and their advice.
Constructive criticism also forces you to think outside the box. It forces you to try to see yourself through the eyes of the person offering the criticism and to consider how their advice could actually benefit you. This guides you away from bad practices, or just mediocre ones, and guides you toward better practices. Constructive criticism is not meant to be a personal hit; it is a beneficial form of communication.
Keep an open mind and focus on the ways you will improve. Once you learn to appreciate constructive criticism you will find yourself becoming a much better person, and will also find that you are much more productive. If applied appropriately, you will be thankful for the constructive criticism in the end. And, it is always manly to be open to improvement.
About the Author
Steve is a writer, blogger, and fitness enthusiast with a particular love of hockey.
If you want to talk health, fitness, or self-improvement, don’t hesitate to get in touch.