As you listen to the criticism and your adrenaline starts to flow, pause – take a deep breath – and heed these three tactics:
1. Control your feelings whether anger or disappointment.
We call it constructive criticism and it usually is. But it can also feel painful, embarrassing, and personal. Recognize your initial feelings and then put them aside so the noise doesn’t crowd out your hearing.
2. Look beyond the delivery and listen to the message.
Even if the feedback is delivered poorly, it doesn’t mean it’s not valuable and insightful. Not everything will be communicated in “I” statements, focused on behaviors, and shared with compassion. Avoid confusing the package with the message.
3. Don’t agree or disagree. at this point. Just collect the data.
Feedback is useful information about how someone perceives you or your situation, i.e. your team’s performance. Let go of the need to respond immediately, get into a listening mode, and fully understand what is being said. Probe for more data. Ask for examples. Even ask for suggestions. Only then respond with your story and your facts. Then move into problem-solving.
How to Respond?
If you feel you’ve been blind-sighted by the criticism and you’re unsure how to respond, then what? It depends. If it’s from someone whom you don’t want to deal with right now, smile and say “Thank you for the insight, I’ll think about it carefully.” And then change the subject or politely leave the situation.
If it’s your boss, you can’t sidestep it. You need to deal with it. You can perhaps delay the discussion to later in the day or ask for 15 minutes to finish a crucial project. If that doesn’t work and it has to be now, then stop what you’re doing; turn off email, phone, and messaging; take several deep breaths and clear your mind; and remember the above three ideas.
Career Success Tip:
When criticized, don’t turn on the immediate impulse to defend yourself, blame others, or other negative behavior. Rather turn it into a learning experience. Pick out at least one thing that you will change so that you will become more effective in your job or in advancing your career.
Do you want to develop Career Smarts?
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- Find career and leadership boosters in the Smart Moves Blog.
- Copyright © 2011 Marcia Zidle career and leadership coach.