We all know we should be able to take constructive criticism, but knowing and doing are often two different things. Hearing someone be critical of your behavior, actions, or work can lead to a defensive response, even when we don’t mean to. But constructive criticism is an important part of personal growth, so it’s helpful to learn how to handle it well. Here are a few tips to help you better handle this kind of feedback.

Don’t React Immediately

We are hard-wired to respond immediately when someone criticized us. We feel attacked and we want to attack back. But this can negate any of the positive benefits you’ll get from really hearing and internalizing the criticism. There are almost always valid reasons to allow someone to provide this kind of feedback.

Consider the Benefits of Feedback

When someone does approach you with criticism, be sure to consider the value in what they’re saying. They only want for you to improve, so consider their words in that light. What benefits can you get out of accepting and acting on their feedback?

Listen Closely

We tend to listen to respond, not listen to hear. But listening, and listening for comprehension, is important when it comes to criticism. What are they saying to you? Listen closely and repeat back to them what you hear for clarity so they can correct or advice on anything you may have missed.

Say Thank You

Always thank them for taking the time to talk to you about their concerns. Most people let theses types of things stew, which does little for them and you professionally. There may be other people who have had the same thoughts, but this person was brave enough to tell you. Thank them for their honesty.

Ask Questions

It’s okay to ask for clarification. If you have questions, ask them. This should be an exchange and the person providing feedback should be willing to answer any questions you have about what they have said. Get clear and precise answers that can help you make a positive change in your behavior.

Ask to Follow Up

Finally, ask them if you can follow up with them on this criticism once you’ve taken some time to correct it. Talk to them about the improvements you’ve made and see if they’ve had any noticeable takeaways form you turning over a new leaf.

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