One of the more prominent ‘life themes’ that I’ve been noticing lately is peoples’ intolerance for receiving constructive criticism. People are resilient to change. They do not want to be told that they could be doing something better, or more efficiently. They are closed-minded, and believe that any suggestion for improvement is not only unnecessary, but also uncouth. They get unreasonably angry and defensive, leaving you with absolutely no choice but to back pedal, insert some compliments, and slowly retreat.
I notice this issue very frequently within the work place. In a corporation, there are a number of different personality types. Most of them, however, can all agree on one point: if it’s constructive criticism, I don’t want to hear it.
Why is this, more often than not, the case? Do people truly believe that all of their actions, behaviors, and beliefs are perfect, and beyond the possibility of improvement? Well, I should hope not! Of course, no matter who you are in this world, you can always always improve upon things.
Whether you’re in the work place or not, take constructive criticism with a professional approach.
- Don’t take it personally
Most people see constructive criticism as an attack. Step outside of yourself for a moment, and try to understand why this person is giving you this criticism and what they intend to happen or change as a result. Perhaps a simple alteration can lead to a project at work taking off with success, a complete 180 in your romantic relationship, or dramatically less hostility between you and a friend.
- Keep an Open Mind
Although you might be rather set in your ways, it’s never a bad idea to be open to change. Sometimes it is so easy to get stuck in a routine that you let other great ideas and opportunities pass you by, unnoticed. Somebody else might think of an idea that has never crossed your mind before, and although it wasn’t your idea, it still might be a great one. Listening to others, keeping an open mind, and being approachable are key to keeping your best interests in mind.
- Use an Evaluative Approach
After someone has given you constructive criticism (welcomed or not), take some time to process their suggestions. Evaluate whether you believe their points are valid, and try to come up with a solution that will appease your criticizer and also make you feel satisfied at the end of the day. Try not to be hostile or defensive, as that will only escalate the issue at hand.
On the flip side, as the criticizer, it is important to remember that you should be gentle. Use “I” statements and do not assign blame or point fingers. Try to avoid the word “you”, and instead make use of “when”, “I”, and “because”. Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and acceptance and willingness to change take time.
Constructive criticism can be a wonderful thing, if you let it. The way you choose to perceive it entirely dictates the course that it will take. I can say, with certainty, that the more you welcome self-improvement into your life, the more you will feel at peace in your heart. There is always an opportunity to be better. Challenge yourself, and you may be surprised.