On the road to becoming a successful business owner or entrepreneur, you’re going to encounter constructive criticism. After all, as Elbert Hubbard put it, the only way to avoid criticism is to, “say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” Both negative and positive feedback are essential to professional growth and development. That said, that doesn’t make the more negative comments any easier to hear.
In order to be the best that you can be, you need to be able to listen to and accept all kinds of feedback. Here are five tips to help you manage constructive criticism.
1. Take a Deep Breath
Press pause on the situation and take a moment to breath. When receiving constructive criticism, it’s a natural first instinct to get defense or to deny, justify, or shift blame. By not responding immediately, we give ourselves time to process our feelings and reevaluate what we were going to say, leaving less room for regret.
2. Consider the Source
Not all criticism is constructive or comes from the right place. Most of the time, it’s easy to evaluate the reliability and value of the comments based on who’s giving them. For example, feedback from a fellow entrepreneur or mentor might be taken much more seriously than feedback from a disgruntled employee. Focus your attention on constructive criticism that comes from people whom you respect and trust.
3. Take Different Perspectives
After considering the who, take a step back and think about the where. What might have triggered the person to feel this way? Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask what their concerns are, why they have them, and how you might have contributed. Being able to better understand the cause of the negative feedback will help to better avoid that situation in the future.
4. Take Responsibility
When someone gives you constructive criticism, accept and take responsibility for your actions. Reiterate the concerns that you’re hearing so that the person knows they’ve been heard. If, after fully evaluating and taking on a new perspective, you still disagree with what they are saying, then give supporting reasons why you don’t agree and create an open dialogue. Compromise and agree on conclusions of how to move forward and what steps can be taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Most importantly, thank the person for sharing.
5. Learn from It
Constructive criticism isn’t given to degrade or humiliate. People who care about us and want us to succeed give feedback so that we can learn from our experience, adjust, and grow. Evaluate what this information means, why these things occurred, and what you can do to change your behavior. Only then can you continue on your way to being your best self.