Token 186: What to do with criticism

No matter how good we get at managing our emotions, most of us remain terrible at responding to criticism.

Part of the problem is how rare it is to find radically candid, constructive criticism. Giving feedback well is an art that few have mastered.

But even when we receive feedback that’s delivered in a reasoned, respectful and helpful way, we tend to respond poorly. We begin to defend ourselves, explaining why we did what we did and why whatever went wrong was somebody else’s fault (remember, banish blame).

There are two simple steps you can take to dramatically change the way you respond to criticism.

Critique the criticism. Who is criticizing you, and how credible are they on this matter? How much does their opinion matter to you? Is their feedback accurate? Is it based on a full understanding of the situation?

Be curious. Often, we receive criticism that is incomplete—that is, you might need to ask a few questions to get to the heart of the critique. Or, the criticism might be valid, in which case you should seek to learn from the situation.

When you receive criticism, remember that your only goal is to grow. Criticism can and will help you do that, but only if you’re willing to let it.

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