How to Handle Criticism in the Workplace

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”
Neil Gaiman

How do you deal with criticism? The first reaction for most is to defend ourselves, or worse to lash back. In the workplace, leaders usually use criticism to help employees improve their work and make them tremble before approaching the boss’s office.

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Criticism in the workplace can be constructive. Constructive Criticism in the workplace can help employees understand what they are doing well and what they need help with. For a criticism to be constructive or helpful in any way, the one being criticized also has a role to play.

Constructive criticism is vital in the workplace. The purpose of this type of critique is to help the recipient improve and ensure that the same mistakes will not happen again. Giving constructive criticism can be easier than done. Here are some examples of delivering constructive criticism in a productive, and respectful way.

Establish Trust

It is important to establish an open, trusting relationship with the team or colleagues. Trust is the baseline that will help the set tone of your future conversations, and help you deliver feedback and help them accept it and put suggestions into use.

Balance the Positive and  the Negative

Giving constructive criticism whether the feedback is positive or negative it is important to make sure you’re presenting a balanced perspective.

Observe, Don’t Interpret

Don’t assign meaning or intent to someone. Observe, and give them the opportunity to explain their perspective.

Be Specific

Focusing on specifics is one of the best ways to give constructive feedback.

Talk Face-to-Face

It is better to deliver constructive criticism in face-to-face conversations rather than via email, instant messenger or phone. These technologies, are useful in other situations, but it is much more open to misinterpretation because they eliminate important contexts such as vocal tone, body language, and emotional inflection.

Don’t Make it Personal

When giving constructive criticism, it is important to remember to distinguish a person from their actions. Focus on the issue at hand, whether it’s a pattern or performance on a specific project, without making broader claims about who they are.

Provide Feedback Consistently

Make your feedback have the impact it deserves by the manner and approach you to use to provide performance feedback. Feedback can make a difference to avoid provoking a defense response.

Be Timely

Don’t let days or week pass by before you give someone feedback on their work, especially when it comes to a specific project.

Employees should to keep in mind and see the value of such feedbacks. Viewing criticism in a negative way, no amount of constructive advice would be perceived in a positive way. The best way to skillfully offer constructive criticism depends heavily on the nature of the relationships and personalities in any given situation. Constructive Criticism must be delivered properly as well.

  • When criticizing over a particular situation, give concrete examples so that people would really grasp what you want to convey.
  • Give recipients an opportunity to tell their side of the story. Remember that it has to be a two-way conversation.
  • Tell them what you expect to happen in the future and why. Doing so will help the other person understand your perspective and see the bigger picture.
  • When discussing the situation, get input from the other party. Finding solutions is easier when ideas are being bounced off against one another.

“We need very strong ears to hear ourselves judged frankly, and because there are few who can endure frank criticism without being stung by it, those who venture to criticize us perform a remarkable act of friendship, for to undertake to wound or offend a man for his own good is to have a healthy love for him.”
Michel de Montaigne

Receiving criticism in the workplace can be uncomfortable or, at worst, detrimental to the career’s employee. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of dealing criticism in the workplace.

Don’t: Take it Personal

It is a great skill to separate personal and professional elements in the workplace. It is the work that is being criticized, and not you personally.

Do: Listen

The key is to listen to their advice and figure out whether the criticism is constructive or simply rude.

Don’t: React Unprofessionally

Even if the criticism is wholly untrue, act professionally or back up your response.

Do: Stay Calm

Be respectful no matter what. Reacting well while taking criticism on board will help to boost your reputation.

Don’t: Hold Grudge

Holding a grudge can have a negative impact on you and your future work.

Do: Evaluate

Try to look at the points from an objective viewpoint and how you can solve the problem.

Don’t: Refuse to Believe

People make mistakes, it’s okay to be not perfect. What’s important in the situation is you learned from what is happening and avoid it from happening again.

Do: Think it Positively

Thinking criticism positively will cement your reputation as a good employee.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.
So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt

To succeed in life, both personally and professionally, it’s important to take criticism in stride. Being able to hear people’s opinions can improve relationships, academic performance, and job satisfaction. Being sensitive to criticism can be a strict situation. Remember that criticism represents just one person’s point of view. Knowing what your strengths are and don’t let other people’s opinions keep you from working hard towards a goal.

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