If you’re an over-achiever you can relate: criticism can hurt. It can be hard to hear feedback on how to play better when you’re busting your butt and putting forth so much effort.
A few quick tips for taking the sting out of criticism, both as a Receiver and a Giver.
- Acknowledge the sting and categorize the Giver. First, it’s normal to react. If you feel defensive, recognize it as a self-protective move. Then mentally say to yourself, “Okay Ego, the goal is to play better.” Second, if the Giver is someone you respect and trust, remind yourself they have your back and want you to be successful. Even if their delivery wasn’t the best, they want you to be your best. They’re attempting to help. If you don’t know or don’t respect the Giver, file their remarks in your brain’s “just information” folder and decide later if it’s even relevant. Whether you use their “gift” of feedback or not is up to you.
- Use feedback as insight. If the feedback is from a trusted source it’s useful. Whether the criticism is about the quality of your work, your results [or lack thereof] or your actions or inactions, their remarks provide a unique opportunity to learn about yourself or to learn about how others are perceiving you. Reframe their criticism as insight and then discern how best to act on it.
- Criticism and feedback were not created equal. There’s no need to stand on your soap box. Being judgmental, ridiculing, lecturing and moralizing is boorish. If you want to be constructively and sincerely helpful, share information that motivates the Receiver to modify the way s/he plays.
- Focus on the benefits and payoffs. Focus less on trying to change the person and focus more on the benefits of said change. A great way to start a conversation about improving the way someone plays is to ask the question, What do you think worked well, and what do you think you could have done better? Followed by, How might these changes and tweaks lead to a different result? If there’s still a piece of feedback that hasn’t come up you can always say, One more thing to consider to get you even stronger results is…
As Elbert Hubbard said, the only way to avoid criticism is to “do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” Since we’re all playing full-out to the best of our ability and actively engaged in making an impact we will end up giving and receiving feedback. Keep it positive and actionable and you might just be surprised to find they come back and ask for more.