Dealing with criticism is rarely easy or pleasant. Some people are good at giving criticism, while others can be quite abrasive; some offer it in order to make you better (like your coach or manager), others to put you down. With this in mind it’s important to accept criticism, matter how it comes, gracefully in order for you to use it as an effective learning strategy.
Handling criticism gracefully requires an attitude shift. No matter what the intent of the criticizer, take it as an opportunity to get better. The important thing to remember is that they are seeing something you don’t. No matter how often we look we will never to able to see all flaws or needed areas of improvement within ourselves, so take this feedback as a positive. This is not to say that everyone offering feedback should be taken seriously, but always look for the glimmer of truth in what they have to say, you may be surprised what you find. Thank them for their observation and then take a minute or two to contemplate the message.
Should this feedback leave you feeling discouraged, brainstorm and write down 3 specific actions you can take immediately to improve upon the issue at hand. Coming up with an actionable plan will allow you to feel empowered, and make seeing criticism as an opportunity to improve more realistic. Take this process one step further by sharing your plan with your coach, a manager, or a trusted colleague. Sharing your plan adds an extra level of accountability to ensure that you act upon your plan.
Handling criticism isn't always easy, but it can always be helpful if taken with the right attitude and perspective. Next time you are in the hot seat, don't get defensive, but rather remember that criticism is one of the most effective learning strategies out there, so take advantage of this free feedback.