What does the word “criticism” trigger for you? For many of us, we think of uncomfortable jabbing comments that either throw us into an immediate state of defense or send us running for the hills. If the idea makes you cringe, you will learn below that constructive criticism is a beneficial tool in the workplace and in our personal relationships. The ability to give and receive criticism is critical for anyone who is looking to continually learn and grow.
As a professional in the workplace, your projects will be under heavy scrutiny when dollar signs are involved. The executive or worker bee who can muster their emotional intelligence in scenarios like these will leave their audience more focused on their positive response rather than the potential flaw in their work. As Victor E. Frankl said it:
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”
Taking the inevitability of criticism into consideration, and the power of our reaction, let’s turn our eyes to some tips for the formulating the best response possible.
We pooled insights from Bloomberg’s How to Give and Receive Criticism and Darling Magazine’s How to Give and Receive Criticism Well to come up with tips on how to navigate the concept of constructive criticism. Please COMMENT and SHARE below- what’s your scenario; how have these tips working for you; or what did we miss?
When Giving Criticism:
- Check your motives. Criticism should be kind-hearted in nature. Before you approach the person you intend to critique, make sure you’ve evaluated why this conversation needs to happen. Leave any hints of pride, jealousy, and irritation at the door. True constructive criticism is given with the person’s best interest in mind–to help them see a new perspective and propel them towards improvement.
- Lead with affirmation. Start by sharing what you’ve observed the other person to be doing well. How have their skills shown through in their work? How have they positively affected those around them? Validating their strengths will assure them of their value and render them more receptive to what you have to say.
- Give specific yet concise critique. It’s easy to get wordy and indirect while having an uncomfortable conversation. Clearly explain what they can do better and suggest how these improvements might be made. It may help to outline what you plan to say on paper before you give your critique.
- Support your feedback with “why”. Explain why your point of view is valuable. Have you learned this same lesson through your own experience? Putting yourself in their shoes will show them that you are on their team.
- Conclude with encouragement. Close with a reminder that you have faith in their abilities and are available to help them along the way. Ideally, the individual will feel more motivated than deflated when the criticism is paired with reassurance.
When Receiving Criticism:
- Resist the urge to take offense. When we are approached with critical feedback, it’s natural to let our pride get the best of us and dismiss criticism before it’s even given. Remember that humility is the root to success and will take you further than being a know-it-all ever will, so listen to the critic with a gracious attitude and open mind.
- Humbly consider what the other person has to say. View this moment as an opportunity to learn and grow out of old habits and weaknesses you may have been unaware of. Constructive criticism often opens our eyes to opportunities for improvement that we would have never noticed on our own!
- Appreciate the investment. While it may feel impossible to muster up a verbal “thank you,” remember that it often takes time and care for another person to share their insights with you. View your conversation as a sign that somebody values you enough to see you improve. Even if the criticism you received doesn’t feel relevant, it never hurts to hear a new perspective.
Whether you’re the critic or the one being critiqued, constructive criticism encourages transparency and builds relationships. Rather than shying away from it, we encourage you to challenge yourself to enter into difficult conversations and be shaped by the feedback of others.