Constructive Criticism & How to Receive It

In the professional world, constructive criticism is a part of the learning process for us as staff members to become better and stronger in our roles. When receiving constructive criticism, it is easy and common to become defensive and angry even when there is value in what is being said. Sometimes we need to help of our manager to identify our weaknesses and develop pathways for personal and professional growth. To help you, we have collated these tips on how to receive constructive criticism graciously and use it to better your career.

Listen to Understand

As is common with normal conversations as well, most of us are guilty of listening to others for the purpose of responding, not for the purpose of understanding. To engage in a proper dialogue about your performance, you need to open yourself up to active listening. Pay attention to the traits and scenarios your manager explains. Try your best to not interrupt the person, and let them complete their thoughts.

When we feel criticised, even constructively, we are quick to speak to defend ourselves, but may completely miss the point of the message in the process. Rather wait and rephrase what the manager has said as a question, to make sure you fully understand what they are saying.

Remember: it is not easy or comfortable for others to give us constructive criticism.

Ask Questions

Another key factor is to switch from emotional mode to investigative mode. When we fully understand something, we can be rational and logical about it. Ask your manager for examples and more detail when you feel unsure of their feedback or what it means. If you feel yourself becoming defensive, you are within your right to ask for some time to process the information and then hold another meeting.

Ask for Assistance

You can show your manager that you are really interested in their constructive criticism by asking them for some advice on how you can improve on your weaknesses. When we acknowledge our weaknesses and ask for advice, we show strength of character, and ingratiate our managers to us. We show that we are professional.

Mistakes are not Failures

Try to shift your mindset into gear: mistakes are not failures, and they are not permanent. We often get defensive about constructive criticism because we feel like it means we have failed, or we are ‘bad’ at what we do. This is not the case. Someone else’s strengths can be a supplement to your weaknesses, and you can learn from each other. Every mistake is a lesson to learn, and an opportunity to grow as a person and as a professional.

Need More Advice?

If you are looking for more career and employment advice, head over to the Tower Group blog where we post helpful articles for job seekers and professionals everywhere.