Feature photo by ajourneyroundmyskull
Knowing how to decipher criticism and turn it into a positive experience is a key element in self improvement. One should never take criticism as an insult. Instead, view it as an opportunity to better yourself.
I once had a mentor say to me “Everything is not always black or white-sometimes there is gray. You have to be able to see through your ego and know (that) everybody is not always out to get you.” Afterward, I brushed my shoulders off and sincerely appreciated the great advice. I still seek his lectures when I find myself doubting my capability and still he helps put things in perspective for me. I used to get insulted and felt unappreciated at times during my career. I now have the ability to see my way through any critique and find a way to accept it as another piece of advice, regardless of the source.
Constructive criticism is a good thing. Rather than perceive it as a direct insult, you can use it as a way to build your skills. I used to watch my co-workers cringe at the thought of heading to the boss’s office, most times for no reason at all. I would try my best to head them off and give them a friendly reassuring before they headed in to see “The Boss”. I gave them the same advice that enabled me to develop not only professionally, but personally also. It’s all too common to latch on to a negative comment and let it weigh you down, here are a few ideas to help keep you from falling into the slumps when you feel you’ve been criticized:
1) Evaluate the (criticism).
Is it valid? Is any part of what is being said true, accurate, relevant to you, your life and/or behavior? If it is, you need to own it.
2) Take responsibility for any of your errors/mistakes being pointed out.
There is no shame in owning up to it. Don’t become defensive, instead relax (as best you can) and try to listen to what about yourself or your actions is being brought to your attention.
3) Use the behavior(s) being brought to your attention as a stepping-stone to the ladder of future success.
You are the only person who stands to gain from self-improvement. Retain your confidence and use whatever suggestions work for you to build more.
4) Thank the source.
Often times, we are quick to assume that the source (boss, family, friends, etc.) is out to get us when in reality they probably are not. Of course it’s not easy to sit by silently in agreement when you feel you are being attacked, but trust that most of the time it is for your own good.
5) Do not dwell on the experience as a negative one. Stay positive.
Take away with you the positive elements mentioned. You have many admirable attributes and should understand that although they may not have all been highlighted in the conversation, that is not to say they don’t exist. Nobody is perfect and we can always make room for improvement.
Surrounding yourself with people with a positive outlook is also a plus. You can build yourself a support system. Even if you start with just one other person, at least it’s a start. Good luck, and keep your head up! It takes more muscles to frown than to smile so be sure to walk with your head up and grinning at the world. Afterall, with your confidence, you’ll be climbing your ladder of success in no time- and that, my friend, is plenty to smile about!