Few people are immune to workplace criticism — and chances are, even high-flying corporate leaders and senior management will have to deal with this reality of professional life. But the trick to coping with this reality is to realise that even the most stinging critique can help you take your career to new heights.
Here are our top suggestions for using negative feedback to fuel your professional growth:
1. Don’t take your professional life personally
No matter how invested you are in what you do, it pays to remember that you are not your job. It’s easy to read critiques of your performance as a personal attack, but it’s healthier to acknowledge your emotions and put them aside. Assessing the problem with a clear head will allow you to identify ways that you can move forward and improve.
2. Everyone’s a critic
Although a lot of workplace criticism is constructive and valid, there might be the rare case where the feedback is the product of someone’s ego, rather than a genuine attempt to help you improve in your job. Think about what your co-worker or manager’s motivations might be. If your gut tells you that the comments are undeservedly harsh, put it in perspective, take a deep breath and let it go.
3. The truth hurts
Sometimes, negative feedback can be painful because you know it’s based on truth. Does your time management truly need work? Could your communication skills use some developing? In our experience, constructive criticism can help turn you into a star performer. Acknowledge your past mistakes, recognise your areas of development and commit to improving upon them in the future.
4. Develop your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EQ) refers to the ability to recognise and effectively manage your colleagues’ workplace behaviours and is an important factor in workplace success. Use your emotional intelligence when dealing with workplace critique and remember that no matter how criticism may make you feel, defensive reactions won’t serve you well.
Your best course of action is to ask your manager for examples of the issue and actionable suggestions about how you could rectify the situation. Keeping a calm head will prove to your manager that you take their concerns seriously and are prepared to use them to help you move forward.
5. Learn your lessons
Once you’ve made a concerted effort to fix the issue or put strategies for improvement in place, put the negative feedback in the past and do your best to move on. Carrying criticism with you can make you feel resentful and create barriers to your professional growth.
Even though it might be difficult to hear, receiving negative feedback in the workplace should be viewed as an opportunity to learn and develop. Here's how:
- Don't take your professional life personally
- Use this chance to acknowledge past mistakes, even if it's painful
- Consider the motivation of whomever is providing feedback
- Use your emotional intelligence and don't get defensive — learn your lessons