Handling Criticism with Grace in 5 Effective Ways
I‘m just going to put it out there. I’m a bit of a hard head. I’ve gotten a lot better over the years but I used to be a lot worse. I didn’t like change and I didn’t handle criticism all that well. This was especially the case when I was just starting in my field of work. I was still in my learning period and it used to exhaust me, feeling like nothing I did was ever right and I felt incapable. I was trying my very best to bend over backwards trying to win everyone’s approval but it didn’t feel like an easy task.
Why Is It So Hard To Handle Criticism?
Everybody gets criticised. And I mean it when I say, everybody. That’s how we grow. Without it, we would get nowhere. All those great leaders we look up to, they get criticised just as much as we do, if not more. Leaders get criticised because great leadership requires mental toughness. If you’re not being criticised then you won’t have the ability to lead, guide or grow your work, your career or your team. It may seem like these people can do no wrong with their vast experience but there’s one quality they possess that helps them in life: the ability to see criticism as an opportunity.
The Benefits of Criticism
- Personal growth and expanded perspective – To look for truth within the criticism encourages humility. It’s not an easy process to try and figure out your weaknesses but the only way to grow is to be willing to do so. When somebody criticises you, it’s an opportunity to open your mind up to new ideas that you may have not even thought of and expand your thinking.
- Criticism is a form of communication – If somebody is criticising you, it means that they want to give you feedback on what you’re doing so it’s your job to convert their feedback into an opportunity to learn. Before you respond, take some time to think about what they’re saying and how to best respond. Being able to receive criticism well is a great quality to have and it only means that you’ll get a better outcome to the situation, especially in business.
- Improved relationships – We all criticise and we’re all criticised. It’s a part of life. But with criticism, we’re given the chance to practice peace over conflict. By embracing criticism, we practice how to react better, brush off the small stuff and move forward. All of this will lead to improved relationships with the ones around you.
- You are empowered to achieve more in life – When we learn to accept our critics, we are better equipped to reach our full potential by also learning to accept, to evaluate, grow and move on from life’s hardships. Criticism gives us a chance to learn from our weaknesses and empower us to do better and more importantly be better.
- Practising forgiveness – The process of forgiveness takes time and it’s not easy. Especially when we feel as if we are wronged when it comes to criticism. But research shows that practising forgiveness can not only strengthen your relationships but also boost overall happiness. Learn to forgive when we feel anger and this will enable us to handle criticism better.
The 5 Effective Ways to Handle Criticism Gracefully
1. Know yourself
For as long as I can remember, I was the person that wanted to make everybody happy. So when I got promoted at Burberry, I found it difficult and my team found it difficult to adjust. It took me a long time to realise that if I was going to become a leader, I would have to make decisions that may upset some people.
I remember running to my friends for advice and everything that came out of their mouths never seemed to be positive. Because they were upfront and truthful with me. They told me straight. Which is what I needed. To handle criticism gracefully, it’s important that you know yourself as a person. It was these conversations that taught me things about myself that I didn’t even know e.g my weaknesses, what matters and what shouldn’t matter to me.
2. Don’t respond right away
As I’ve said above, it’s important to take some time to yourself to think about the situation before you respond right away. It can be very easy to respond out of anger or defence when you receive criticism which will lead to a negative outcome or a damaged relationship. You may make the situation worse. So if you receive criticism, take a couple of deep breathes to cool down, think about it in your head and reply when you feel a lot more balanced.
3. Ask for clarification
It’s easy to take criticism the wrong was when the other person’s intentions may be good so to avoid any misunderstandings, it’s critical that you ask them for clarification such as “could you expand on what you mean?” or “Where do you think I could improve?” This saves you jumping to conclusions and avoiding any bad result from a misunderstood situation.
4. Keeping Your Inner Circle Tight
Earlier last year, I was criticised by someone I didn’t expect to be criticised by. I remember it like it was yesterday. Nobody had ever spoken to me like that before. Criticism in the most aggressive and negative ways. That’s when I consoled in my friends and surprisingly the majority of them said the same thing, “why do you care? They shouldn’t deserve a place in your life for their opinion to be valued.”
Sometimes when people criticise you, they do it because they care about you and your well-being. But sometimes the less unfortunate reasons are because of their insecurities and their attempt to try and bring negativity into your life. You need to ask yourself if you value the person offering their opinion to you. If what they’re saying is unkind and pointless, ignore them and move on. Learn to not value those that are out to hurt you, over those that are genuinely there for you. Let yourself break free from that negative cycle. Instead, learn to trust those that have your best interest at heart.
5. Make the Changes You Need to Make
To utilise criticism in the most effective way, you have to implement changes. Learn to do better, especially in the workplace. If your manager sees that you can take negative criticism well and use it to implement changes, you’ll be respected enough to be proactive and react positively to feedback. It shows that you are eager to learn and grow.
Let me know in the comments below your top tips for handling criticism!
Some features of this post may have been sent to me for review. However, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please read my disclaimer.