Do you enjoy having your work scrutinized, analyzed and evaluated by your boss or others in authority? Well, you should—using criticism as a springboard to excellence is a surefire way to become indispensable to your organization. Here are eight ways to benefit from constructive criticism:
1. Don’t expect perfection the first time. Like a seasoned writer, you should consider your first attempt of a task a rough draft or a first pass. Expect that there will be feedback and suggestions, and trust that those recommendations will take your work to the next level.
2. Be collaborative. Even if you are the project leader or sole person focusing on the task, you should always consider any work project a collaborative effort. Even the most mundane-seeming task could potentially impact every other department of your company, and it’s only natural that others feel they have a stake in the outcome, even if you are the one with the skills to execute it.
3. Don’t take it personally. It’s human nature to take affront when someone doesn’t love and praise what you’ve done, especially if you’ve put a lot of time and effort into it. But remember—directors and supervisors have a bigger picture in mind, and their goal is a finished product that meets the standards of their own supervisors, and positively affects the bottom line. It’s not all about you.
4. Listen and wait before reacting. Listen carefully to the criticism or suggestions offered, and suppress the urge to automatically defend your work. Your colleague’s observations may or may not be feasible, but they deserve to be fully heard out and considered. If the recommendations are detailed, take notes. Later, if any of the suggestions are impossible to fulfill, regroup later to discuss.
5. Is it subjective or objective? If you’ve made a factual error, then it’s an objective criticism and usually easy to correct. But often criticism is subjective and opinionated, and there is no right or wrong answer or approach. This is why communication in the early stages is so vital; get on the same page as your colleagues as the project is being formulated.
6. Document your process. Keep records of your work and a history of changes requested and implemented. Often collaborators don’t remember all the details of what they’ve requested, and can ask for additional changes that don’t correspond with earlier requests. By refreshing their memories with your detailed notes, you can avoid double-work.
7. Don’t brush it off. Sometimes it seems easier to ignore criticism and suggestions than to assess and take action, especially in the early stages of a project. But avoidance leads to big problems later, as deadlines loom and subtle criticism transforms into abject rejection. Take all criticism into careful consideration, and work with your supervisor or team to solve potential problems before they arise.
8. Invite constructive criticism. Even if your work has been signed, sealed and delivered without criticism or comment, ask for a post-mortem evaluation. Tell your supervisor that you want the next project to exceed the success of this one, and ask for specific guidance in improving future collaborations.
How do you cope with criticism? We invite your comments and feedback below.