No one likes being criticized. Whether it’s a boss criticizing an employee for doing a bad job or a client disapproving a designer’s work, it is human nature to take criticism negatively. When criticized we automatically assume the worst, get disappointed and damage our self-esteem in the process. What most of us don’t understand is that criticism is crucial for personal improvement. Without it we will become over-confident, egotistical and never improve.
Look at it this way, criticism is what keeps us grounded. How we perceive it is entirely up to us. If you stop being self-conscious and open your mind (given that the other party hasn’t badly treated you), you will be able to gather benefits from it.
Here are five steps you can take to effectively deal with criticism:
1. Don’t take it Personally – Your client probably doesn’t have a grudge against you. Whatever s/he says typically comes from his/her experience and understanding, so don’t take it personally. Reacting emotionally never helps and can make the situation worse. Really try to listen to what the client wants and take it objectively.
2. Avoid Immediate Reaction – There is no need to get defensive. Listen carefully, take a deep breath, count to ten and think about your answer. Allow yourself to calm down and you will avoid any unnecessary resentment due to an impulsive reaction. Remember, criticism is just another person’s opinion. Once you realize that it’s only feedback, your defensiveness will start to fade away.
3. Put Yourself in the Critic’s Shoes – Instead of considering the client your enemy, try to put yourself in his place to understand his/her point-of-view. Take criticism as a suggestion or recommendation, instead of reacting harshly. Criticism can bring new ideas and create solutions to existing problems which can lead to success.
4. Deconstruct Criticism – It is very important that you listen to the critical view carefully, instead of reacting harshly. You should seek clarification by asking specific questions, keeping an open mind to the critic’s opinions and viewing your work from a third person perspective. This will help to analyze the constructive criticism better. It will also help to teach you to work outside your comfort zone and grow as a professional.
5. Be Willing to Improve – Criticism should help you improve your flaws, while increasing your knowledge and experience. Take it as a challenge. If your work is not up to par, your client is likely to let you know. Instead of acting rude, ask how you can correct your mistakes so the next time around you will succeed.
Embrace criticism instead of shying away from it. Paying attention to criticism by following the above five steps will help you handle this feedback and show you areas where you might need improvement.
Be Confident in yourself and avoid repeating the mistakes that might provoke negative feedback. Understand that there is a fine line between being self-confidence and egotistical. Even if some criticism feels negative or harsh remember, you have the power to think positive and turn it into constructive criticism.