“I can NOT believe she said that to me!!!” This is often our response to criticism. Yet at the same time, we ask a colleague or friend to give us feedback because it’s the only way to get better. “No, don’t just tell me it’s fine. Tell me what you really think.” How is anyone supposed to know what to say?
Girlfriend and guest blogger Aloted Omoba recognizes that we don’t always deal particularly well with criticism (at least, most of us don’t). She shares her top tips for learning from criticism. What are your tips for handling feedback you might not have been expecting?
Nobody likes to be criticized. I certainly don’t. It can be disheartening when you put your heart and sweat into a project and then a colleague at work comes along and pokes holes in it. Or when you are proud of attaining a goal you set for yourself but a friend belittles your achievement.
The thing is, criticism will always come whether you like it or not. Once you step out of your comfort zone, people will have something unsolicited to say about what you should or should not do.
Sometimes criticism could be positive and constructive; other times it will be downright hurtful and even knock off your confidence.
Since we cannot always avoid criticism, the key is to understand how to handle it effectively when it comes.
It is a popular saying that you can’t control what people say but you can control your response. This comes in handy when dealing with criticism.
From girlfriend to girlfriend, I would love to share a few tips on how to handle the heat of criticism and still maintain your dignity and confidence.
1. Don’t take it personally
I have come to realize that most people form opinions based on their previous experiences or on the limited amount of information they have on any topic/issue. As a result, they judge you from that premise.
For example, your friend could be critical of your new boyfriend simply because of a past hurtful experience she had with someone who looks or acts like him.
Knowing that your critic doesn’t always have the full picture will help you depersonalize their words and put their opinion in perspective. Most times it is about them and not you.
2. Ask for specific feedback
Imagine that you have given a presentation at work that you thought went pretty well. A colleague you usually find difficult tells you afterwards “Your points were really quite hard to follow, you know?”
Your first reaction may be to say something nasty or say nothing so your critic can leave you alone in peace. Rather, try saying something along the lines of, “Oh that’s an interesting view, please could you be more specific and give me an example of what wasn’t clear to you and how you would handle the situation better.”
Now you have made the discussion about them. Your critic will either come up with a specific example or waffle. If they are able to give you clear-cut feedback, thank them and tell them you will take their comments on board, then keep it moving. If they waffle, they will look silly and probably never bother you again. (I suggest you try this tip only with peers and not your boss.)
3. Focus on the facts
When criticism is constructive, it is much easier to accept your critic’s point. However, when the criticism seems demeaning, you would probably get upset. It is only natural. But with some effort, you can turn it into an opportunity to learn.
When you are a bit calmer, reflect on what was said and then pick out the facts or truths. Write them down if you need to. This would help you stay focused and objective.
Then ignore everything else—the tone, the exaggeration, the look—it is simply noise. Dwelling on the negatives is not beneficial to you in anyway and will only knock down your confidence.
It might take a while to get over the hurtful remarks, but you will get there. Don’t suppress it; just let it float in your mind. Visualize yourself letting go.
4. Get a trusted second opinion
Sometimes criticism from some certain people could be bothersome and it may be difficult to see their points objectively.
Try talking it over with someone you trust, who can be neutral and tell you the truth gently. Use them as a sounding board, vent if you must.
Getting a second opinion will help you stick to the facts and concentrate on what you need to change, if anything.
5. You cannot please everyone
At the end of the day, let’s be real, it is impossible to please everyone. So don’t live in fear of what other people think. It is only their opinion after all.
Simply focus your energy on pursuing your goals. If you get feedback- good or bad it means you have been noticed. That’s a good thing, if you ask me!
Adapting to a new way of dealing with criticism might take a while but keep at it, and get back on track each time you find yourself drifting.
So dear girlfriend, from today, endeavor to practice these tips any time you get criticized. I guarantee that you will be a pro at dealing with criticism effectively sooner than you think. Also you would become more sensitive when giving feedback to others.
ALOTED OMOBA is passionate about empowering women. She is the founder of the Super Working Mum website where she writes practical tips for the working mum who desires to succeed both at home and at work. She has just written her first e-book—Boosting Your Confidence, 15 Steps To Success In The Workplace. For your FREE copy of her e-book please visit www.superworkingmum.com. You can connect her on twitter @superworkingmum.
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