Criticism makes me want to curl into a little ball and do that rocking back and forth thing. But I also recognize that the person who is offering it to me knows that I have the potential to be better – to be amazing even. So yes, feel free to show me why I suck at something, like flipping an egg, parallel parking, math, and logic puzzles. I won’t like you for a little while, but I will appreciate your feedback – eventually. So while getting that corner office with the great view might make work a lot more fun, or getting a raise helps too, or even having better coffee in the break room, here’s something else that will improve your job satisfaction: Learning how to take, accept, and use criticism.
Although there a lot of factors that will determine whether someone likes their job, an inability to take criticism certainly has its place on that list. It was clear that the unsatisfied employees in our sample did not like being criticized. Here are the results from our Sensitivity to Criticism Test study:
- After receiving negative criticism, 43% of unsatisfied employees respond by becoming disengaged from their job. They put in the bare minimum effort to get tasks done (compared to 18% of satisfied employees).
- 44% of unsatisfied employees feel insulted when someone rejects their ideas (compared to 29% of satisfied employees).
- When they recognize that the criticism they received is justified, 47% of unsatisfied employees indicate that this realization makes them feel like a failure (compared to 23% of satisfied employees).
- 48% of unsatisfied employees feel degraded when people point out their mistakes (compared to 24% of satisfied employees).
- 48% of unsatisfied employees admit that others will often avoid offering them advice or an opinion for fear that they will get offended (compared to 31% of satisfied employees).
- 59% of unsatisfied employees get discouraged when they’re told that they haven’t done their best work on a project (compared to 39% of satisfied employees).
- 66% of unsatisfied employees have an Average or Below average performance rating (compared to 23% of satisfied employees).
- 79% of unsatisfied employees have self-esteem issues (compared to 46% of satisfied employees).
You can add this to the “sad but true” list: Knowing how to handle criticism is a necessity in almost any job field. The higher you climb the career ladder or the more successful you become, the thicker your skin will need to be. Here are some tips to help you view criticism in a more positive light, and help it go down a lot easier:
Accept that everyone makes mistakes. Being ashamed of mistakes or failure is actually one of the greatest errors you can commit. Making mistakes is part of being human, and to deny imperfection is to deny who you really are. Swallowing your pride and admitting when you are wrong does not make you inferior to anyone. In fact, to admit a fault and take ownership of it is a sign of strength and personal courage.
Look at the disadvantages of not accepting feedback. If you find yourself getting tense or upset when you receive criticism, think of the situation this way: Would you rather be kept in the dark, not knowing what you’re doing right or wrong, or would you rather have the chance to fix whatever needs to be mended before the problem gets worse?
Actively listen to and learn from criticism. What you choose to take away from criticism you receive is important. A lesson is being offered, so use it to your advantage:
- Take note of criticism offered by clients, colleagues, managers, friends, family, or your partner, whether it’s constructive or not. Behind their “bite” may lay a morsel of truth and helpful insight on areas where you can improve.
- Successful actors continuously hone their craft. Technology companies are always looking for ways to improve their product. Becoming aware of your weaknesses and working hard to overcome them is the key to your success.
- If a performance review brings to light gaps in your skill set or conduct that needs to be amended, come up with a plan of action on how to develop these areas. Don’t be afraid to ask your manager for suggestions on what you can do to improve your performance.
- Keep track of your progress after implementing improvement strategies. For example, are you able to complete tasks more efficiently? Are you receiving fewer customer complaints? Are you making more sales? Is your supervisor finding fewer mistakes in your work? Find a tangible way to measure your improvement.
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”