Friday, May 20, 2011

A Professional Response to Criticism

Receiving constructive criticism regarding your work or work style can cause you to conjure up negative thoughts and emotions and a less-than-professional response. But consider how different and positive your response might be if you viewed constructive criticism as an opportunity for improvement and advancing your career. In fact, many people who have reached the pinnacle of their professions credit constructive criticism and tough critics as instrumental to their success.

Understandably, it takes time to develop a new way of thinking about and responding to constructive criticism; the following tips may help.

Give your full attention and focus on learning

As soon as you realize you’re being criticized, it is easy to miss the rest of what the communicator is sharing as you shut down and start formulating your rebuttal. Instead, listen carefully without interrupting. Focus on the intent of the overall message rather than hanging on to particular words or worrying about how to defend yourself. After listening carefully, if you are unclear about what the communicator is saying, ask clarifying questions or request examples to put the feedback into context.

Respond appropriately

Always maintain a positive and professional attitude. If you recognize you have made a mistake, take responsibility and focus on how to solve the problem. You may even want to consider establishing expectations for moving forward. In cases where you don’t agree with the constructive criticism, respectfully explain that you see things differently but will further consider the feedback. Besides, it is always best to re-assess criticism after you’ve had time to process the feedback and your emotions.

Always thank the person for his/her candidness and time. Remember, you are better off knowing what your manager or other people of influence might be thinking about your work so that you can respond when necessary.

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