Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Using Criticism to Learn and Grow

Using Criticism to Learn and Grow

When you can shift the way you understand criticism and start to deal with it better, you can use it to make your life better. The key is to take as much good from it as you can when it’s really valid criticism. Developing thick skin is not about blocking yourself off from the pain that you will naturally experience, but rather it’s about opening yourself up to the full experience. You’re doing things that make you vulnerable to criticism, and being honest about who you are in a way that might make people want to bring you down. But along with the hurtful criticism you will inevitably receive, there’s also a lot of truly great things that go along with this kind of life.

Below are a few things to remember about criticism which can help you use it to make your life better.

Learning and growing are a part of life

Constructive criticism really can make you a better person, and if you can learn from it, it can be a major asset. Most people who attain success worked on feedback from others in order to reach the heights that they achieved in life. But they also learned to ignore those people who were not trying to offer constructive criticism and instead just wanted to bring them down.

If you’ve decided that the criticism is valid and it really was meant to help you, then incorporate the criticism into an action plan. Think about the criticism afterwards and reflect on what exactly you can do to make sure that you do better next time. Look at the information that is being offered by the person criticizing you, and decide on the best way you can address it.

If someone tells you that they were bored with the speech you gave, maybe you could try including jokes or interesting stories the next time you give a speech. This person might be helping you a lot to become a better speaker in future, despite their harsh remark.

You could also specifically ask someone who is criticizing you what their suggestions are for improvement. Usually, if they’re willing to tell you what your mistakes are, they’ll have some ideas about how you can improve. Often, these suggestions can be very useful. For example, if the speech you gave was in front of high school students, and they told you that they found it boring, maybe they’ll suggest that you include references to celebrities or popular culture. When people give you a way to make them feel included in your work, do your best to incorporate those ideas into your projects. They’ll notice your efforts and you could win their support.

You can remember in these moments that not only are we all imperfect, but no one even really expects you to be perfect. They just expect you to improve where you can and to strive for excellence.

Your boss will be much less impressed with you if you do an okay job but never improve, than if you start off doing less than okay but show him that you’re constantly learning from your mistakes. Adopt the attitude of being a lifelong learner. Take as much as you can from other people, and use it to make yourself better.

Take responsibility for your mistakes

Don’t try and hide the fact that you might have made a mistake or pretend like it didn’t happen. Taking responsibility for making a mistake will count in your favor in the long run. It will show people that you have integrity and that you can be honest even when you might be slightly embarrassed. It will also demonstrate that you’re confident in yourself and in what you are trying to achieve. So confident, in fact, that you can take the criticism as useful feedback, rather than being distraught about it.

When people honestly admit that they’ve made a mistake, it immediately creates more trust in others. People see you as genuine and straightforward. They know that you can stand up for yourself and that you probably won’t make the same mistake again since you’ve shown that you are learning from it.

This level of honesty also makes you relatable to other people. They’ll see you as human; you make mistakes, just like everyone else, and you’re humble enough to admit to these mistakes. People could grow to trust you better because of this and might want to support you more in the future.

You shouldn’t be ashamed of making mistakes – all of us make them. But very few of us are brave enough to admit to them and publicly resolve to learn from them.

Solicit criticism from others

Once you’ve learned to deal with criticism well, you will see how useful it really can be to you. You’ll start to really value respectful, honest criticism, and you’ll be able to incorporate it into your work.

When you reach this point, you could even try to ask for criticism from people you trust so that you can correct any problems before launching a project. You should be asking for criticism from people who really want to see you succeed. The feedback they give you will be invaluable.

You could even try approaching experts in whichever field you’d like to improve in. You’d be surprised how often people are willing to help others, even if they’re already very busy. The worst that can happen is that they’ll say, “no,” in which case you try another strategy.

Soliciting feedback could be as simple as asking your friend who is very fashionable what he thinks of your new outfit or what he would suggest you wear to a certain party. It could include asking your friend who is good at swimming to give her feedback on your technique so that you can be a better swimmer.

Those people who really want to be better, in every way, will be constantly relying on others to help them get there. Even when the feedback hurts sometimes, these people realize that they don’t know it all, and that they need other people to make them better.

Remember that the feedback you give to others hurts them too

This is something I had to realize as an English lecturer. I would do my best to be informative and clear with students when I gave them feedback, and then they would suddenly drop my course. I had to adjust my technique.

People want to feel supported and feel positive about an experience more than they want to hear what they did wrong. If you can do both things at the same time, you’ll deliver effective feedback and not scare people away.

Work on being just as respectful and direct with other people as you’d like them to be with you. Just like you have your flaws in certain spheres, you’re also much better than most people in some things. When people ask you for your feedback, try and give it in a way that really helps them and doesn’t make them feel bad about themselves.