Gentle readers, some tips on taking constructive criticism:
- Remember that it isn’t personal. Seriously. It really really isn’t. Nobody is insulting your hair, or your mother, or telling you that your fluffy little bundle of Pomeranian would fit nicely in the microwave. Nobody is telling you that you are a bad person, or dumb. It’s. Not. Personal. If you have to put a fucking post-it up with a reminder of that, then do it.
- It doesn’t matter whether constructive criticism is coming from a superior or a peer. It does not make it any less valid if it is coming from your peer. If you would do it without question if a superior suggested it, don’t get bitchy because somebody in the same pay grade mentioned some room for improvement. It’s petty, silly, and unprofessional.
- Smile. It’s never fun to receive criticism, constructive or not. It’s difficult to give, as well. It doesn’t have to be unpleasant for anybody though. Smile, and always thank them for taking the time to discuss things with you—even if you disagree. I will smile and thank people for criticism for shit that isn’t even my fault. “Thanks, I’ll remember to do that next time, and although I am pretty sure I wasn’t even at work that day, it’s a really good thing to keep in mind.” FYI, I hate doing that. I gladly own my mistakes and conversely will fight to the death when the mistake was not actually mine. However, for the purpose of professional communication, I deal. It works.
- If you disagree, before you argue about it, consider what your constructive critic might be asking you to do. Unless the answers to the following questions are respectively and holistically Yes, No, No, No, you are going to have a hell of a time arguing your way out of it.
- Is it really much more work?
- If it does make more work for you, will it make less work for the next 2-5 people who are handling things after they leave your desk?
- Is it designed to create an overall better product?
- Is it generally designed to make life easier for your teammates and coworkers?
- If you disagree, but do not have a valid argument as to why you should continue to do things the way you are doing them, there ain’t no point in opening your mouth to argue. You have already lost the argument and will merely look immature, whiny, and lazy. “I think I am doing enough” and “That’s how I’ve always done it” and “I feel comfortable with how I do things” and “You’re not my boss” (in the event that it is your peer and not your superior offering you such criticism) are arguments that have failed before they have even been given breath.
Nobody likes criticism. Whether it is constructive or not—we want to think that there is no actual need for improvement in what we do on both a personal and professional level. Even those of us who to love to learn, and love to improve may have moments where we are truly disappointed that what we have done was not simply awesome.