- Sunday Sanctuary
Make Criticism Your Superpower
Criticism is uncomfortable, both for those receiving it, but also for the people dishing it out - so why do we engage in something that nobody enjoys? The truth is, criticism can often become a stepping stone to reaching new heights, so learning how to handle it well is often the secret ingredient to success.
Take a Moment
Knee-jerk reactions to criticism aren't often (ever?) overwhelmingly good. It's natural to feel defensive, offended, or upset by what you hear, and these emotions are completely valid. What isn't valid is acting on these emotions as they come. Take some time to sit with what you've heard and leave some space to cool off until you can approach the subject with a sense of objectivity. Simply by saying 'okay, I'll get back to you on that' instead of leaping to your own defence straight away will take away the option of words being said that you may regret later.
Remove Your Ego
We often attach our outputs and activity to our self-worth, so when a manager or colleague tells us something is wrong, it feels like we're being told that we are wrong. Practising the detachment of our egos from projects and tasks means that when criticism comes, we can look at our work objectively, rather than as an extension of who we are. And anyway, if we were the same person we were ten years ago, we'd suck, right? Maybe their words are worth a listen.
Often criticism can sting a lot more because of a misunderstanding. If we refuse to be open to it then the face value of what's being said might be misinterpreted. By exploring criticism in more depth it may make it easier to take a more rounded approach both at the time, and in the future when we're faced with a similar situation again.
Let It Go
Disney's Frozen knew what was up. Nothing is ever that deep in the workplace, and obsessing over criticism will only affect your mental wellbeing negatively. It won't make the piece of work better, it won't change what was said, so finding the energy to forgive yourself, and remind yourself that no human on earth has gone through life without mistakes will help you realise that in a year, you won't even remember why you were so stressed out.
There isn't a single thing people are excellent at off the bat, and even if they are, they don't remain at the same level of excellence. What makes success so sweet is that it's often built on a pile of ashes from projects, ideas, and tasks that were miserable failures, but the criticism and feedback from these was taken on board to create the masterpiece at the finish line.
If we can learn from negative feedback, then nothing can stop us. Criticism - when meant with good intentions - is an incredible tool for self-improvement. Of course if the criticism teeters over the line to unkindness, then it may be worth meeting with HR to discuss your discomfort. Often however, we can't get far in life without someone pointing us in a better direction.