Relationships: How to Gracefully Take Constructive Criticism

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We have all been here at one point. Whether it’s an employer, spouse, parent, teacher or even just a friend, we have all been here. We have all, at some point in our lives, been stopped in our tracks and criticised. Whether it’s a bad habit, substandard work or general everyday behaviour, we have all gone through it. We have all been criticised. However, this does not mean that it is easy though to take criticism. Nobody likes being told off, nobody likes hearing that they are wrong, or that what they’re doing is not good enough. Nobody likes to get ‘checked’.

Nonetheless, criticism is a vital part of everyday life, as it is the most efficient medium through which we learn of our shortcomings and weaknesses, and as such, learning to take criticism constructively should be an important skill that we all seek to muster. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Be open to constructive criticism. Image from https://missionself.com/constructive-criticism

  1. Control your first reaction.

The most natural reaction every time we are faced with criticism, is to get defensive. And getting defensive could take many forms, from mild forms such as zoning out of the conversation to the more probable and prevalent not so mild forms, such as lashing out. Whatever form it may be, just stop. Keep calm, exercise your restraint and try not to react, because the moment you do, 9/10 times the situation will instantly go downhill. So keep calm and keep your wits about you

Listen. Now that you’ve not got sucked into a reaction, listen. Keep your mind open and actually listen to what the other person is saying. Even if you think the criticism is unwarranted and the person saying it to you isn’t making any sense, just listen. Consciously or subconsciously, if the person speaking to you is making valid points, you will start to acknowledge them (although you may not want to admit that they are actually valid points at the time). Also, avoid making a response till they’re actually done with the entirety of their argument, and even then, restrain yourself from making an immediate response, till you’ve actually had a chance to think what they said to you through because it could actually have some merit.

  1. Keep your ego in check.

Criticism doesn’t always come from those above us. It doesn’t always come from an authority figure. It may come from peers, people we consider ourselves to be at par with or even people who are subordinate. Whatever the case, keep your ego in check. None of us is truly ever invincible nor are we afforded with the monopoly of being right all the time. We all make mistakes, we all have weaknesses. It shouldn’t matter who’s pointing out those mistakes, what matters is our receptiveness and willingness to take the pointers and actually learn and grow from them. So always keep an air of respect when you’re being criticised, no matter who’s on the other end delivering the criticism.

  1. Ask questions.

Ask questions. Ask questions to deconstruct the feedback and get clarity regarding what the real issue is. If you’re getting criticised, you might as well find out the reason behind it, so that you can change and improve on that aspect and have it never happen again. This will not only ensure that you find out the specifics on what you need to improve on but also builds a culture of receptiveness. It also shows that you’re open to feedback and it also demonstrates your willingness to learn and desire to be and do better.

  1. Ask for help.

As the saying goes, it takes a big man to ask for help. Ask for help. Ask for people’s opinions on how to be better. Ask people for suggestions, especially in areas where you know you’re weak at. Contrary to popular notion, acknowledging your shortcomings and asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and confidence. This will ensure that you’re always growing and becoming better and will make taking criticism and helpful pointers that much easier in your everyday life.

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