Whether it’s the day of your long-awaited appraisal or because you’ve received an unexpected calendar invite with the subject line “quick chat”— meeting with your manager can bring up all sorts of emotions, especially when feedback is involved.
The good news is that fear of constructive feedback is a common but manageable reaction, and learning how to accept and respond to it is an important part of both your personal and professional development.
How do you deal with criticism?
When it comes to hearing about our weaknesses and areas for improvements, the first reaction for most of us might be to defend ourselves, or worse yet lash back. But while criticism can be taken as hurtful and demoralising, it can also be viewed in a more positive way. Because when you do this, you benefit from an opportunity to improve and thrive.
Why constructive feedback is good for you
Criticism is a part of life and we all face it at some point and therefore handling it well is very beneficial. When it comes to work and professional development, most people have goals in mind. For instance wanting to take on more responsibility or get promoted to a senior position but they aren’t sure what steps to take to get there.
Both positive and constructive feedback can be a valuable way to help you reach these goals, and the more feedback you receive, the better understanding you have.
The benefits of consecutive criticism in the workplace
We all know nobody is perfect, and therefore no employee is perfect. Everyone has areas for improvement, but without being receptive to this type of feedback, it’s difficult for you to accelerate in your job.
Constructive criticism helps you to look closer at your strengths and weaknesses, navigating them towards self-improvement and boosting your confidence. It gives you a new perspective and opens your eyes to things you may have overlooked or never considered.
Why is it so hard to take criticism?
So why is it difficult to shake the emotional reaction you get when receiving constructive feedback?
This is because of a chemical reaction.
Your brain has a natural tendency to go into fight or flight mode (your stress response) when it senses you’re being threatened. The increased amounts of hormones being released into your bloodstream are the cause of your heightened emotion.
Though it’s normal to feel this way, it’s also not impossible to control. Once you stop viewing constructive feedback as negative you can prevent your brain from eliciting these kinds of reactions.
Changing your perspective
Here are some benefits that can be found when you shift your mindset into a more positive one when it comes to receiving constructive feedback.
It’s an opportunity to learn. Actively listen to the feedback and ask questions such as “what could I do better? Where can I improve? See this as an opportunity to get a clear vision on the direction you need to go in order to achieve your goals. When you do this, you’ll feel happier if you go away with a clearer vision in mind.
It’s not an attack. Remember that constructive criticism is meant to be helpful and not hurtful. It’s a method for critiquing that focuses on your performance at work, rather than a personal attack on your character or other personal attributes.
It’s investing in your future. Receiving feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, is a good thing because it shows that your colleagues are invested in your future and they want to help you reach your potential. Rather than letting you fail and replacing you, they see that you’re the right person for the job and want you on their team.
It’s creating a trustworthy workplace. With feedback and input from our peers and managers we are able to learn and expand our horizons while creating trusting relationships with others. Most importantly, an open environment like this allows us to be proactive and share our input without putting people’s personal feelings in jeopardy.
Don’t beat yourself up. Avoid allowing your mind to spiral into “everything I do is wrong.” Focus only on the specific feedback.
Don’t embrace “should” thinking. You “should” have thought of that. You “should’ve” known better or done better. It’s okay to not be perfect.
Don’t attack the other person with your own criticism. This will only make the situation a whole lot worse.
Come out on top
Criticism is not easy to receive, especially when it comes to your work, but by overcoming a negative mindset, you can convert criticism into a competitive edge. Remember to step back, remove the emotion and turn it into an opportunity that takes you from a good employee to a top performer.