• Grace Simpson

WHY CRITICISM AT WORK IS NOT YOUR WORST ENEMY

It may sting at first, but find out why criticism is actually one of the best things for your career.



Early in my career I was very defensive when I received criticism - or feedback if we use a more positive term. I quickly learned how to adapt in a feedback-rick environment and use it to advance my career rather then hold me back. Here is what I learned and I hope it can give you some perspective.


Thinking of it as correcting your form

You would not be offended if your hockey coach helped you adjust your slap shot to score more goals or if your personal trainer told you to bend your knees more when you squat for a better workout, so why do we take it so personal when we receive feedback about our performance at work?


Well, to be honest, it is personal. It is a direct reflection on actions we thought were correct and others noticed these actions and did not see them as ideal. Try to think of feedback or criticism as correcting your form in a work environment. Slight adjustments to your behaviour can make a big impact.


Not all feedback is valid

Some people loveeee to share their way of doing things as the only way of doing things. Some people try to make themselves look better by putting you down. But, I like to believe most people are genuine in their intentions for sharing feedback or criticism to help expand the company as a whole.


Consider all feedback, but only action some. During my internship I was told I often come across as too "Legally Blonde" and while that was likely very true, it was also something that made me shine during presentations. Remember, it is your choice if you take action on the feedback given to you.


Ah- what do I say?

It can often feel very abrupt to get feedback from another person. The feedback giver typically finds the best time for them to share their feelings (and this may catch you off guard). RESIST THE TEMPTATION - DO NOT RESPOND IMMEDIATELY. Why? Because it is our nature to put our backs up and defend our reputation or actions (regardless if the feedback is valid or not).


All you need to say is "Thank you for the feedback." Leave it at that. You are not confirming you will adjust your behaviour, just being polite. This gives you the time to process if you want to action it, or leave it be.


Last week I received a very short email from a peer letting me know "they had major issues with my actions" and I wanted to immediately explain how I was right and they were wrong. But, I bite my tongue and set up a meeting. Taking some time to reflect, I realized she comes as very blunt, but really just meant she would just appreciate a bit more collaboration in the future (Good thing I did not open my mouth too early!).


The Golden Rule!

Remember to give feedback in a way you would like to receive feedback. I suggest:

  • Ask the person when it is a good time for them to connect

  • Prepare what you want to say and practice

  • Be genuine, focus on their actions and the impact

    • Example - when you scheduled the meeting last week and did not invite me (their action), I felt out of the loop on the communication and was not able to answer key questions on the next conference call (your impact)

Being gracious and comfortable receiving and giving feedback is a skill set, but practice makes perfect. It is a skill that can help in all aspects of your life - whether with a relationship or during a group project at school. Trust me, the first few times hurt, but it gets easier with each conversation!

Ps. Thank you Jamie Suderman for requesting this blog topic!

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