Seek Criticism In Order To Improve Yourself

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Receiving constructive feedback, or criticism is hard. I know my automatic response is to become defensive and sometimes even a bit angry. There are even times where I attack the person giving me the criticism. (Who me? Never.) It is something that I am working on as I want to improve in my career and grow as a person.

It is easier to seek praise. Ask enough people around you and you are bound to find someone who will tell you want you want to hear; “That’s great!” or “I love it!” But in the end that is not helping you. You are not stretching yourself.

Instead of asking “Do you like this?” Ask “Can you think of anyway to make this better?” Or “How can I improve?”

You may not agree with the advice that you are given. That’s OK. You don’t have to agree with what everyone tells you. What is important is that you reflect on it. Don’t react to the criticism right away. Stop and take time to digest what you are being told.

Remember the goal of criticism. It is to improve your work, your skills, and your relationships. It may be as difficult for the person giving you the criticism, as it is to receive it, so listen with understanding. Repeat what you have heard to make sure that you heard it correctly. If you are unclear about anything ask questions.

After you receive the criticism, say ‘Thank you.’ It will be hard to do. Saying ‘Thank you’ does not mean you agree with the other person’s assessment but it does show that you appreciate the time that the other person took to give it to you.

You need to incorporate criticism into your life to ensure that you become a better person.

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9 comments

  1. Feedback spoken from the heart is a gift.

    I use my own model of heart based feedback that it never feels like you are criticizing anyone but is shows genuine interest in another.

    • Chantal Bechervaise – Outaouais Region - Canada – I blog about everything surrounding the world of work and how it intersects with personal life. Topics include: HR, Leadership, Social Media, Technology, Work-Life Balance, Employee Engagement, Workplace Culture and Achieving Success and Happiness. It is all about your own personal balance and what is appropriate for you. I also love the outdoors and reconnecting with nature.
      Chantal Bechervaise says:

      That is a great point Lolly. It would be nice if more people would model feedback based on your principles of Leading from Within – from the heart. A lot of managers that I have encountered tend to blurt out criticism without putting in too much thought about how it will impact the other person. It does not come across as genuine interest. I like your approach. Thank you for your heartfelt comments. 🙂

  2. Johann Gauthier a.k.a MR.Renaissance – Ottawa and Montréal, Canada – Global HR, Leadership and Talent Evangelist Colleagues, Friends and Family describe me as bringing my own dose of chutzpah in the pursuit of NBE - Nothing But Excellence I live to co-create masterpieces by combining just enough HP (high performance) with NBE = Pure Energy and Creativity supported by Deep Presence Just Play your own Music Stay on your Path
    Johann Gauthier says:

    Amazing post ooce again Chantal ! Short, crisp and infectious ! I love your delivery full of grit and passion… a clear and helpful call to action for all of us… I promise you one thing: kepp writing the way you do and I will keep commenting ! Amitiés, Johann

    • Chantal Bechervaise – Outaouais Region - Canada – I blog about everything surrounding the world of work and how it intersects with personal life. Topics include: HR, Leadership, Social Media, Technology, Work-Life Balance, Employee Engagement, Workplace Culture and Achieving Success and Happiness. It is all about your own personal balance and what is appropriate for you. I also love the outdoors and reconnecting with nature.
      Chantal Bechervaise says:

      Merci beaucoup Johann! 🙂 But what can I do to improve my writing? Is there something that I could be doing differently? 😉 Appreciate your comments!

  3. davidmjbrown – Kelowna, BC – David is a lawyer with Doak Shirreff LLP, a regional firm that has proudly been located in downtown Kelowna for over 45 years. David is a litigation lawyer and practises primarily in the areas of employment and immigration law. In the past, he has appeared before Provincial, Superior and Appeal Courts, as well as before Human Rights Tribunals, Labour and Employment Boards and Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunals. David is a tireless advocate for the interests of his clients. He believes that the law should be practiced in a constructive, interactive and profoundly ethical manner. From the first client consultation to the close of trial, David aims to provide valuable, timely and specialized advice through service and education.
    davidmjbrown says:

    I have often worked for companies where feedback – either positive or constructive – has been all but absent. This is of course frustrating, especially for people early in their careers that are looking for mentorship and self-improvement.

    As a career coach of mine once said, “Be the source of the communication you need”. I think you raise this well in your post, putting onus on the individual to seek criticism by asking for constructive feedback on projects.

    When providing criticism, I think it’s also important to note that presentation and word choice can be the difference between having it well received and having a resentful defensive co-worker.

  4. letsgrowleaders – Karin Hurt is a keynote speaker, leadership consultant, and MBA professor. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers, AMA's 50 Leaders to Watch in 2015, Top Thought Leader in Trust by Trust Across America. Her next book, Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul is being published by AMACOM in April 2016.
    letsgrowleaders says:

    I love your advice of reframing how you ask for feedback. So often I hear, “what feedback do you have?” How much more inviting to say, “how do you think this can be improved?” Great post. I’m excited to include it in the September Frontline Festival.

  5. Thank you for the advice. It follows the process of learning and growing in a reciprocal process. It reminds me of the adage: iron sharpens iron. Receiving and giving constructive feedback only sharpens our leadership skills.

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