Do you find accepting constructive criticism brutal? No one likes to feel inferior to an authority figure or close friend. But constructive advice is intended to help a situation, not damage a working or professional relationship. If you accept constructive criticism, here are seven guidelines for making the best use of someone’s good intentions.

1. Listen Respectfully

.When a person is trying to tell you something negative, it is easy to get upset and focus only on the critical aspects of the discussion. You might be tempted to jump into the conversation and deal with the negative points rather than wait to hear what the speaker truly intended. It is best to listen to the speaker, asking only brief questions for clarity, if needed. Give the person a chance to explain any concerns. Maintain a positive attitude with facial expressions and body language. Try not to tune out the points you disagree with while staying focused on the entire message. Make a mental note of the issue and plan to address it when it is your turn to speak. The person speaking to you will appreciate your willingness to get the whole story before responding too quickly.

2. Be Sure You Understand

.In accepting constructive criticism, you must understand what has been shared. You don’t have to accept blame or responsibility for something that doesn’t make sense or isn’t clear. After hearing what the speaker has to say, take time to ask questions or make comments to confirm your understanding of the situation.   

Sometimes it can take a bit of going back and forth to ensure that both parties hear the same message. One helpful approach is to reword what you think has been said and then ask if it is correct: “So you are concerned about the three days I arrived late this month due to my car problem? ”It sounds like I have missed part of the summary discussions when I take minutes at the meetings. “Try to hone in on the main point being shared. This technique helps keep the speaker’s message clearer. Staying focused will help you to deal with a single issue rather than try to sort out a host of complexities.

3. Acknowledge the Speaker’s Point Of View

.As you listen, you may begin to disagree inwardly and eagerly await your chance to respond. What she said may not be easy for her. She may feel uncomfortable about confronting you with something potentially hurtful, or she may be counting on your intelligence and understanding to accept the situation, which is a reasonable approach to solving a problem. You would not respect this person if she hid her real feelings or allowed a more serious problem to develop for failure to address it at its root.

The art of accepting criticism is to see the other’s goal in offering it. No one is perfect, and the person taking the time to point out a flaw must care about you or the company both of you serve. Respect her position and duty in bringing this information to you, no matter how difficult it may seem at first

4. Don’t Become Defensive

All of us want to be accepted and appreciated for who we are. We are embarrassed and sometimes feel guilty or ashamed when others notice a problem behavior or a mistake we have made. That’s why it is sometimes challenging to come across as one who can accept constructive criticism. But being open to learning and growing is desirable in any job position or relationship. Don’t feel that you must “protect your turf” and go into defense mode to appear suitable—or even perfect. It helps to realize that you have a valuable opportunity to learn from a negative outcome and become a better employee, partner, friend, or family member. While you may have helpful information that will enlighten the speaker or explain your actions, don’t share those facts in a self-righteous way. Instead, try to maintain a humble but positive outlook that will make it easy for others to work with you.

5. Avoid Escalating Tensions.

When discussing setbacks or limitations in a person’s actions, the potential for escalating tensions is created. When we feel overly criticized or misunderstood, it becomes natural to bring up past issues or current problems that might otherwise have been overlooked. However, this is not the time to put all cards on the table. It is better to focus on the issue at hand and reserve any exchange concerns for a later time unless they are related to the current topic. Of course, accepting constructive criticism doesn’t mean you should let yourself be belittled or harangued, but someone offering constructive feedback will not do those things. Look for the positive aspects of the feedback without trying to take the conflict to the next level; avoid slipping into a tit-for-tat mentality.

6. Follow Up With Positive Action. 

After accepting criticism graciously, accept the responsibility for making changes that will help matters improve. Some people pretend to take criticism but fail to make the necessary adjustments. Following up with suitable action will show others that you know how to accept criticism and can actually put it to good use, enhancing your professional image and potentially improving personal relationships. You might even want to keep a written record of any changes you make so if the situation is later revisited; you have documentation demonstrating your willingness to follow helpful feedback.

7. Take the Initiative.

You don’t have to wait for others to take the initiative in giving you constructive criticism. You can ask those whose opinions and expertise you trust for advice or suggestions to help you do a better job or avoid making the same mistake. The only dumb question is the unasked one. Let others know if you need help or are struggling before problems become apparent. Most people are more than willing to provide assistance or answer questions to help you do a better job. Ask someone you trust for a performance review at work or an honest opinion in a friendship or interpersonal relationship. Then be willing to act on that information, if applicable.

Accepting the advice of others is the hallmark of an open mind and cooperative spirit. Constructive criticism can make you a more effective friend, spouse, or employee.

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