Allow Criticism to Ignite Your Passion, Not Your Anger

“The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure criticism without resentment.” – Elbert Hubbard

Easier said than done, right? Criticism, whether constructive or just plain harsh, is often – and quickly – taken personally. Upon hearing those words of critique, a typical reaction usually includes a flight or fight response. Either the desire to give up or some kind of defensive comeback immediately comes to mind and is amplified depending on the size of the task being criticized. Deep down, we all know we need to get over this type of reply. Believe it or not, there is great value in constructive criticism because it helps us identify our weaknesses and recognize areas for improvement. Being able to handle it with grace and composure allows us to maintain both professional and personal relationships, and ultimately be more successful in all our career endeavors.

The benefits of processing criticism extend beyond self-introspection. Handling feedback with an honest, listening ear can result in personal and emotional growth, encourage the development of traits such as humility and patience, and produce opportunities to learn new perspectives and ideas that may not have been previously considered. Similarly, acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes every once in a while can strengthen your self-confidence and prevent feeling like a failure. Working through professional critique can also help foster problem-solving skills and rational thinking. Instead of getting down about constructive commentary, take a step back and reflect on your work. Did you put forth your best effort? Was there a different approach to the project that might have worked better? Asking yourself these questions will help put the feedback in perspective.

In addition, dealing with criticism constructively can greatly increase your attitude and productivity. If you improve how you operate in response to criticism, time and energy will be saved in the future.  The more time you spend dwelling on what someone said, the less time you have to spend bettering your work! In order to make the most out of constructive feedback, consider these tips, recommended by Nicole Lindsay from The Daily Muse:

  1. Listen for understanding. Allow the person giving feedback to share his or her complete thoughts without interruption, then repeat back what you heard for clarification. This response will initiate a calm, professional dialogue to facilitate a more productive conversation.
  2. Say thank you. Be deliberate and express your appreciation for the commentary. Although you might not necessarily agree, this action shows you acknowledge the effort your colleague has taken to share his or her thoughts.
  3. Ask questions to deconstruct feedback. At this point, you should ask questions to get more clarity and share your perspective and reasoning. Avoid engaging in debate; get to the root of the problem(s) and find solutions to solve them.
  4. Request time to follow up. Hopefully, you will be able to come to an agreement on the issues raised and articulate what you will do moving forward.

Keep these suggestions in mind the next time a friend or colleague makes comments about you or your work. Instead of taking criticism to heart and allowing it to fuel your anger, let the feedback ignite your passion and desire to produce better, more creative work.

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