Wise people have learned how to handle criticism. They view and handle it like any other feedback, with a calm and judicious attitude. They try and see how they can use it to get ahead and meet their goals.
Many people, however; find it hard not to react defensively or angrily. There is a tendency in human nature to launch a counterattack so as to shift the blame to the critic. Unfortunately that behaviour often inflames the situation, and it certainly does not help you get ahead or win you any friends.
Criticism is a fact of life, and the sooner you learn to handle it positively, the better you can use that feedback for your own success.
#1 Before you React – Stop!
You will feel the reaction in your body before you can get the words out. And that is where you must stop. Don’t do anything, just breathe…. and take a moment to calm your defences. It’s more than likely the other person won’t even notice, and it will give you time to compose yourself.
#2 Remind Yourself that This is Feedback
Your composure time gives you a chance to remember that this criticism is an opportunity to learn something, possibly something valuable. Say to yourself, “This is not personal,” and repeat it as often as you need to until your initial reaction has passed.
#3 Practice Your Active Listening
Feedback time is a time to listen, it is not a time to talk. Try to understand what the other person is saying. Maybe it’s an aspect of your project or goal that you haven’t thought of yet. What initially feels like criticism may offer valuable insight.
Repeat back what you heard and seek clarification if you need to. This is not a time to analyze or push back, it’s a time to understand precisely what is being said.
#4 Thank Your Critic
Even if it makes you cringe inside, say thank you for the feedback. You don’t have to agree with what they’ve said to be sincerely appreciative of the input. And remember, they took the time and made the effort to give you some advice that they thought my help you in the future.
#5 Process the Feedback
You may need some time to do this, or you might be able to do it on the spot. If your emotions are running high, it’s probably better to take a break and come back to deal with what has been said. Otherwise, it’s fine to ask questions to clarify the feedback, and maybe seek their suggestions on how to move forward.
Learning to handle and cope with constructive feedback and criticism is a really important skill, and once you learn it you will view feedback in an entirely manner. You’ll be glad you learned it sooner rather than later.