Thursday, March 1, 2012

How to Accept Constructive Criticism

Part of self-assessing is learning to accept constructive criticism. It’s easy to decide on our own what we think our flaws are, or where we have room for improvement. It’s a bit more difficult to accept ourselves as other people perceive us—especially when we don’t agree with what they see.

Do you ever feel like people assign you flaws because they just don’t “get” you? It may be true that they don’t have a complete picture of your personality, but they can only go by the information you’ve given them.

Let’s take the office, for example: I have a rather subdued personality—and my professional personality, even more subdued than that. In a sales driven environment where people equate “energy” with loud, fast-talking, hyper-excited behavior, I’m a bit of an anomaly. More often than not, my performance feedback includes notes on being more “energetic” and “excited about {my} projects”. I know that I’m excited about my projects, and that my energy is exerted in a creative fashion—that standout marketing pitch or beautifully written communication is living breathing proof of my energy (and thankfully my direct manager understands this as well). But some people don’t seem to get that.

So how do we accept constructive criticism? We do just that—accept it. We listen, and take it in and consider for a moment, how we might “improve” in the given area, and we ask questions. Is there validity to this? How will this affect my career/family situation/friendships? Can I adjust this behavior without compromising my core values?

Weigh the balance between what feels like your true self, and what the perception of you might be. Get honest with yourself; this is not an excuse to be lazy or to let yourself off the hook for things you know need to be changed. Accept that this is the perception, and then either acknowledge it as your own truth, and adjust; or relegate it to their opinion and lock it away in that place in your mind of detached awareness. If there is too much of a disparity between what they see and what you feel is true, it may be time to consider changing your environment, if possible.

It is important to be aware of how we are perceived, and that’s why constructive criticism can be positive. Whether we agree or disagree, it gives us an opportunity to self-evaluate and to be more aware of how we are affecting others in our environment.

Do you find value in constructive criticism? Or do you have a difficult time accepting it?

photo via Pinterest


Danielle Navonne said...

Great topic! I think, when it comes to accepting constructive criticism for me, it depends on who it's coming from. There are some people who I know are coming from a good place, they wanna see me grow, etc., so I'm more open to them. There are others who I know don't have my back or are just negative people, and it's harder for me to "accept" it from them. I think in some cases, people's perceptions of you often have to do with their own issues; sometimes it's not about you at all. Lol. Guess that falls in that category of "relegating it to their opinion" that you listed. :-) Great discussion topic!

Carole said...

Love your article, it is important to be aware of how others see us and at the same time to remain true to all that we are.

Constructive criticism is a good thing and I've lived long enough to know that how it is delivered is the key in how it is received.

Kim Jackson said...

@Danielle, you are so correct: generally, our perceptions are based on our own experiences; and very often people's reactions to us have more to do with them than the person they are directing to. Something to be aware of when we are dishing out constructive criticism as well, no? :-)

@Carole, being aware of how we are perceived and being true to ourselves is such a delicate balance, isn't it? Definitely something that takes practice for me.

Post a Comment

RSS Feed Like us in Facebook follow me!