Dear Orna: I know nobody is perfect, so why is it so hard for me to accept criticism with grace? Signed: Feeling Defensive
I've always envied people who can graciously accept constructive criticism. But most of us have not been born with that gene and struggle with feedback even when we know it's true!
Have an Open Mind and Be Happier
It's not uncommon for people to react with defensiveness and anger . . . or even worse, attack the person giving them feedback. But the truth is, we need to get over it. Deep down inside we know there is value in constructive criticism. How else would we learn where we need to improve?
In fact, studies show that the more defensive people are when receiving feedback at work, the less happy their are in their job. So, if you want to be happier and more successful at work, try to keep an open mind when your boss give you constructive feedback.
Respond with Grace
It's not easy, but it is possible to handle criticism gracefully. At the first sign of criticism, before you do anything . . . stop! Try not to react at all. Stop your reaction for at least one second, and allow your brain to process the situation. In that moment, remind yourself to stay calm. Remember, this is an opportunity to improve. So hold on and listen closely. Now allow the person to share their feedback without interruption. Finally, thank them for their feedback and let them know you will think about what they said.
Expressing appreciation doesn't mean you agree with their assessment, it simply gives you time to evaluate their feedback and decide how you want to move forward. This is taking criticism gracefully.
But What if the Critiquer is Wrong?
If you genuinely disagree with the criticism you're hearing, and you're sure it's not just your ego getting in the he way, it's OK to speak up. But be careful in your choice of words and in your tone. Be direct, but unemotional. Then explain your perspective and speak with an open heart.
Self-criticism is Worst of All
When those voices in your head tell you that you did a terrible job or you should just give up . . . it's even harder to deal with. But remember, you don't have to listen. Evaluate your own logic and you will probably find a lot of poor assumptions and mis-infomation in your thought process. When you focus on the facts and take out the emotion, you'll be ready to face the world.
So take a deep breath and stop hating on yourself. When you stand up to your own demons, you are stronger and more prepared for life than ever!
Criticism is your path to enlightenment and improvement.