Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Finding the constructive part of the criticism

The impact negative criticism can have on your job performance — and your ego — is often magnified in a bad economy. It's hard not to take things personally, and even if you haven't been laid off (or "downsized"), it's hard to feel happy when you're feeling expendable. Working parents with older kids know that the judgement doesn't stop at the office, either; criticism from your kids is no small thing.

But it’s important to learn from criticism, even the negative kind. We're talking about turning negatives into positives over at The 36-Hour Day; read the details there, but here are some tips that work whether the person on your case is your boss, your co-worker, or even your teenager:

1.) Separate the personal from the professional. Remember: No matter how much you love what you do, or how long you have been doing it, you are not your job.

2.) Consider the source. Do you have a bad boss? How about a catty co-worker? You may still need to do damage control, but negative criticism can be discredited more easily if it comes from a disreputable source.

3.) Look for the kernel of truth. Sometimes, the feedback is valid, but it’s delievered in a negative way. Take a moment to sift through what was said, and focus on the real issue at hand.

4.) Stay calm, respond rationally, get all the information you need. Flying off the handle, crying, or being extremely defensive won’t help you; discussing the situation calmly and rationally will. Don’t hesitate to ask for examples of the problem, or for suggestions as to how you should remedy the situation.

5.) Learn from it, then let it go. Once you’ve addressed the core issue or fixed the problem, don’t dwell on it. Reliving the rejection or internalizing the perceived insult doesn’t inspire you to improve, and feeling resentful or defensive can just make the situation worse.

Read the details at The 36-Hour Day, and please share your wisdom: How do you cope with criticism?

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