Criticism. How to give it, how to take it.

As part of our own progression we will all face criticism. It’s something that touches every single one of us, yet we rarely get taught how to handle it. It’s not easy for anyone. Hearing that something you have done isn’t working doesn’t feel good. And receiving negative feedback can feel really crippling, it can stop you in your tracks and make it feel as though everything positive has been stripped away.


Our minds can often be very good at focusing on the negative whilst taking away from the bigger picture. We know what it’s like; knowing a colleague or your boss doesn’t like something you did can hit you hard internally. It can lead to sleepless nights, increased anxiety, paranoia and reduced productivity.


One of the things that we have got to speak about is the knock on effect that criticism can have when delivered incorrectly. It can even have a damaging effect on an employee’s future within a company. We need to change the dialogue around criticism.


It’s about time we got past the stigma attached to negative feedback and started viewing criticism as an opportunity for growth.


So how can we give criticism in a constructive manner?


A question you can ask yourself as a leader:


Am I holding myself accountable? Where could I help this situation?


An example:


One of your employees is consistently arriving late:


‘Please can we talk about time keeping, when you are on your A game you are such a valuable part of this team and I can’t stress that enough. However arriving late is problematic for the team. We need to support each other and value each other’s time. Is there something that I need to think about here, are your shift patterns interfering with your time keeping ability? If so I need to know.’


If it’s a no, hold them accountable.


If it’s a yes, open the conversation up to how you can work together to fix the situation.


Ask questions around this


Questions you can ask yourself on the receiving end of criticism:


How do I respond to criticism? Think about how you respond physically and emotionally to criticism and take note. Recognise the thought patterns and sometimes-physical reactions you might have.


Ask yourself how can I get better at receiving criticism, can I work on being more open to feedback?


A strong place to start is to take the feedback and step away from it personally. Look at it objectively. Write it down on a piece of paper and look at it as if it were objective. Now ask yourself where is this criticism aimed?


Tell yourself this is not personal, dig deeper into it, what is the criticism really about? And will working on it help me to grow in the long run?


Look at it from the perspective of the person giving the criticism.


If you’re struggling in the moment sometimes it can help to ask for some time to digest it before coming back with an answer.


Set yourself a task of working together to combat the criticism, look at it as a learning exercise.


Smile and breathe, you are enough as you are – this is all just opportunity for growth.


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