Positive Ways to Accept Criticism

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Do you hate being criticized even when you know you've made a mistake? If so, it's no wonder -- criticism can make people feel incompetent, angry and just plain awful.

How do you, personally, respond to criticism? Do you make excuses or lash back with criticism?

"This fight-or-flight response is natural and common, but it isn't very productive. It cuts off communication, often just when it's needed most," says Jean Lebedun, Ph.D., author of the video program "The Art of Criticism -- Giving and Taking."

Many supervisors don't give criticism in a tactful manner. Nevertheless, you should accept criticism so you can learn from your mistakes. But don't fret; it'll be easier when you use Dr. Lebedun's "4-A Formula -- Anticipate, Ask questions, Agree with something and Analyze."


Accept the fact that everyone makes mistakes and that you'll probably be criticized for yours. That way, criticism won't come as a surprise.

Here's another way to anticipate: Take the wind out of the sails of criticism by admitting your mistake first, before your supervisor has an opportunity to say anything to you. This makes your supervisor's job easier and makes you appear more professional.


'What can I learn from this criticism?' Then, whenever you feel yourself growing defensive or getting angry, you repeat the question 'What can I learn?'

Agree with something

When faced with criticism, most people focus on the part of the negative feedback that may not be true and ignore the rest. This doesn't solve any problems, and you don't learn anything.

When you agree with one part of the criticism, you become open to learning. An easy way to agree is to say something like this: "You might be right; my Pro Act skills were not how they should be."

"You don't have to agree with everything; even agreeing with one small aspect of the criticism will create an atmosphere of teamwork, The focus then can become how you'll work together to solve a problem, which will lessen your feeling of being attacked."


Finally, take a break and evaluate what you've heard.

You need time to process the information, determine if it's a valid criticism and decide what you'll do to solve the problem or correct the mistake. If this is a complaint you've heard repeatedly, you should think about what you can learn from the situation so it doesn't happen again.
The benefits of the 4-A Formula are that you'll look for solutions rather than excuses and you'll be in control of your emotions, "You'll also appear more professional."

Always remember that it is your work being criticized, not you. For example, if your co-worker is criticizing a letter you wrote, forget that you ever wrote it. Pretend that someone else did, and your co-worker is merely asking you to revise it for them.
Remember, your co-worker is not doing this because he or she does not like you or your work. They are doing this because they want you to improve your work.Whatever you do make sure that it is the best from your side. People who have difficulty accepting criticism are less likely to succeed in their profession.


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