It can be hard to swallow constructive criticism, but accepting criticism can be the key to getting promoted at work. Understanding what you’re doing wrong and being able to think of a solution to correct it is a crucial part of showing your commitment to growing and climbing the ranks in a company. Accepting criticism is a challenge that really puts to test your “soft skills,” like being a do-er, fixer and thinker.
Here’s some tips on how to take constructive criticism from your boss, manager or peer:
- Listen. An objective eye can see things that you can’t. Sometimes we’re so caught up in our project/task, that it’s hard to see from the outside. It’s understandable to want to go on the defense to defend your work and yourself, but it’s important to hear them out.
- Maintain control. While you listen, don’t let any inner turmoil show. It’s hard to hear about your flaws, but instead of getting upset and rolling your eyes or quipping back, use this as an opportunity to show that you have a good attitude. Maintain eye contact and listen as you would any other important conversation with a boss.
- Understand. Don’t take it personally – just because there’s an area of improvement for you doesn’t mean you aren’t a good worker or don’t produce good results. Separate yourself from your work and realize this is not a judgment, rather, it’s one person’s observation.
- Ask questions. Show that you really want to work on this area (or, defend it if you don’t agree with the criticism… ego aside), and use this as an opportunity to get clarification. For example, “Thank you for telling me this – I hadn’t realized it was an issue. I’ve been letting XYZ slide because I thought that project ABC was a higher priority, so I put my focus into that – am I looking at this wrong?” or “I’d love to hear your ideas on how I might handle this differently in the future.”
- Use it. Feedback has benefits. Constructive criticism allows for an area of improvement – show your manager or boss that you care by trying to remediate this. Make a plan of action to correct it, and follow-through. Arranging a time with your boss/manager to follow-up and track your progress shows that you are trying to improve and want to be a team player.
As tough of a pill as it is to swallow, you will survive hearing criticism. It’s how you respond to it that will fuel your growth with the company and in life.