Criticism is the practice of judging the merits and faults of something, according to Wikipedia. We all have to handle negative feedback at times. Some of it may be constructive feedback, and some may be cruel!
Criticism at work can affect every part of your life, adding stress during work hours and invading your thoughts outside the office. If you don't handle it well, negative feedback from your superiors and colleagues can ultimately derail your career.
There are ways to accept criticism at work with dignity and grace, and ways to make it constructive. Here are some suggestions for dealing with negative feedback at work.
- Listen to the complete message. Don't interrupt and don't try to end the conversation prematurely. Ask questions or talk until the other person agrees that you fully understand the concerns he or she has.
- Don't be defensive. Even if you disagree with what the person is saying, find a way to talk about it without being defensive.
- Control body language. Don't clench your fists or cross your arms while listening. Try to sit or stand next to the person with whom you're communicating. This sets a friendly equitable atmosphere.
- Focus on the issue. When the speaker is talking, listen; when he's finished, ask questions if you're not clear about what he said. Rephrase what he said back to him to ensure you got it right. For example, "So you're concerned about problem X and you would like me to do A or B, Is that right?" This will show him that you were listening, and also give him the opportunity to reword or emphasize something, if needed.
- Keep the conversation productive. If it's clear the person is correct in his criticism, acknowledge it, and offer an apology, if appropriate. Express your appreciation for them taking the time to offer you feedback. After the conversation, if you still feel the criticism is wrong, politely state your opinion, but agree to think about the issue.
- Follow up. To show you value the input, offer to meet again later to discuss progress, if needed.
What are some ways you've managed criticism at work? With family members? With friends?
Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life, by Dr. Carole Kanchier, offers additional communication tips: https://www.amazon.com/Questers-Dare-Change-Your-Life/dp/1508408963