Let’s be honest - no one likes being criticised. It’s not the best feeling in the world to be told that something you did wasn't good enough, and it can be really embarrassing to be corrected. How do you react - do you get angry? Cry? Tune out so you don't have to listen to any more of it? It's not easy, but learning how to take it constructively could be the key to a successful career. So how can you keep your cool when you're being criticised? Read on:
Really listen to what your critic is saying:
If you focus on what they're really telling you, you might find your critic is not actually attacking your character - they are likely just pointing out that there's something about a piece of work you produced that could be improved for next time. Try to understand their point of view - don't just nod while you formulate your retort.
Don't be defensive:
If you are defensive, all you are going to do is get your critic offside. If this person is your boss, that can't be good for your relationship at work, which in turn can't be good for your career. If they're pointing out something you did wrong - take it graciously. Remind yourself that you are eager to hear how you could improve your performance. Defensive behaviour suggests you may not be accountable, which in turn could limit your promotions.
Take your time before reacting:
Count to ten, take a deep breath, sleep on it if possible - any kind of delay will give you a chance to react with a clear head. The worst thing you can do is respond in the heat of the moment - that's when we can say things we regret later. Work is work, so try your best not to take criticism personally, even if it feels that way.
Own your mistakes:
Want to annoy your boss? Argue with them about who was at fault, blame other people and never own up to something you've done wrong. Want to really impress them? Take full responsibility for your mistakes, apologise, then work on ensuring whatever it was doesn't happen again. Nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes. The difference between those who are going places in their careers and those who are stagnant is often an attitude of accountability. Take the blame when you deserve it - that's the stuff leaders are made of.
Water off a duck's back:
When you try new things and aim higher, you open yourself up to criticism. That's ok, but don't let the fear of criticism stop you from trying. If you put yourself out there, some people will be negative about that, some will be positive. Pay attention to criticism from people you respect, as you can learn from that. Protect yourself from being affected by the criticism of people you don't respect or who don't have your best interests at heart, like jealous colleagues - let their unhelpful criticism be water off a duck's back to you.
It's not always easy to maintain a smile and an open attitude to criticism, but it is a skill you can master. Keep these strategies in mind the next time you are corrected for something, and note the difference keeping your cool can make.