“Oh my gosh! I just love it when my work gets criticised!”
Said no one ever.
You don’t want to hear from others that you’re doing something wrong or that you’re not pulling your weight. Vice versa – you don’t want to be the one telling a colleague that his contribution is not quite up to par.
But in the work environment, criticisms are important to get things done and get them done the right way. Like it or not, you will be criticised at some stage of your career because everyone’s a critic!
Hey, don’t take things personally. Remember this: Criticism of your work is NOT a personal attack. And it’s essential for your growth! Identifying your weaknesses is something that needs to happen if you are to work on correcting them.
How to take criticism like a champ? These four ways:
STOP RIGHT THERE!
Whatever your first reaction was going to be, don’t go on with it. Our first emotion and thought when being criticised is usually fuelled by our ego. Tell your emotions to calm down for a bit and listen to what is being said and work on how you can improve from there.
DON’T MAKE EXCUSES – OR JUSTIFY YOUR ACTIONS
For someone to criticise your work, it must be a pretty big deal. So don’t give a million and one excuses on why it wasn’t good but instead ask why and how you can improve.
In order to break down the feedback and understand where you went wrong, ask questions like “Is this common? Have you noticed this before?”. This gives you an idea of whether the action in question was an isolated incident. Additionally, asking people how you can improve will go a long way!
TAKE TIME TO THINK
It’s hard to accept criticism, especially if it is the first time you’re hearing it. But that’s exactly what you need to do – listen. And not respond drastically (see point #1). Think about what you’ve just been told. Maybe there’s some truth in there.
At some point of your career you may feel the need to give your critique on either a colleague’s or junior’s contribution. As much as you don’t like to receive bad criticism, you don’t want to dish it out either. So here’s how to be constructive about it:
FOCUS ON THE SITUATION – NOT THE PERSON
Instead of saying “Your writing skills are horrible”, you can instead say something like “Try being more descriptive in your writings”. This helps the individual not feel personally attacked.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TIMING
Telling someone they could have done something better is best said in private, not in front of the whole office. Criticising someone’s performance immediately after an event isn’t the best time either. The goal is to never criticise in the moment. According to Charlie Harary, author of Unlocking Greatness, timing will determine whether someone will actually take in your criticism or completely reject it.
DON’T FORGET THE POSITIVES
Now, now – not everything is bad. Highlight the positives of the individual in question before jumping into what he could’ve done better. This way, he won’t feel like he’s done nothing right at all!
MAKE IT A CONVERSATION
In order for the person receiving the criticism to understand what is going on and how they can improve, the criticism needs to be a conversation. Give the guy a chance to explain his side of the situation before telling him what could have been done better.
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