How to Gracefully Accept Feedback & Criticism at Work

Being a perfectionist is hard work.  As much as I am a Positive Patty, I can also be a Sensitive Sally when it comes to criticism at work.  This week I was criticized by a few people at work, one the manager and one the owner of my company.   I was upset after both incidents and personally offended by both accounts.  I was not defensive rather quiet during the criticism, and a bit speechless and taken aback.  I wanted to handle it in a better way next time maybe in a less offended way, hence the article here.

I have found that the older I get the more experienced I am, therefore the more right I should be in most situations.  Serious mistake.  We all deserve feedback, and as much as the feedback may be insensitive and potentially offensive at that moment, it is critical to not act with intense emotion and conviction at work.  Just from previous experience, acting overly responsive or caring overly about my job and company got be no where.

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A colleague recently said to me, “why give a shit about the company, when the company doesn’t give a shit about you.”  This was a great point, and I had somewhat of a revelation.  The company really doesn’t give a shit about me, it gives a shit only about what I do FOR the company.  Not about me personally.

This was very empowering to say the least.  I am fortunate to work with a very talented crew, so I feel even blessed going to work on the daily.

Back to the criticisms received this week, I thought about it and realized that the people that criticized me were right.  I just could not process it at the time and didn’t understand it from there point of view.  Either way there will come a time when you are criticized at work, so I want to help give a list of tips to help you handle it when you are confronted by your manager or boss.

1. Feedback is a gift.

Oh boy, this was a hard one for me to accept this week.  I was thinking that maybe I should not received the feedback and maybe my week would have been happier.  Reality is I needed that feedback to help me understand what I was doing wrong, and what I could have done better in that situation.  For many years I have had pretty awful managers that never gave me any feedback.  This was actually a curse.  If I knew what the manager was thinking and their approach to a work problem beforehand, maybe I would not have made the same mistakes again and again and could have improved faster and better.

2. Listen.

Make sure you understand the feedback and ask questions if you do not understand what they said and where they are coming from in a positive constructive way.  Ask how you can perform better and how to do it specifically.

3.  Do not get defensive or make excuses.

This is a really hard one.  You REALLY need to be graceful in this situation as defensiveness will make you seem guilty or not willing to accept the truth in change.  As much as I want to be independent and do my own thing, I must follow suit, trust my leader and do what I am told.  That’s my job!

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4. Don’t be so hard on yourself and take it personally.

We are all in the same boat, and most of us want to do a good job at work.  No need to be hard on yourself and perseverate about the mistake or issue, just remember next time how to you can do better in that specific situation.  At the end of the day, the job is not life or death, and the job won’t be your first or your last, so take care of yourself and be nice to yourself.  Being overcritical will just get you more upset.  Being proactive and working on the mistakes will make you better at doing the job the way your boss wants you to do your job.

5. Thank the person that is confronting you for their feedback.

This is an important part of the situation.  The end of the confrontation on your end should be a graceful one, and the end of the conversation should end on a happy note.  Even if you are upset, take the high road.

6. Never put up with someone personally attacking you at the workplace.

If you feel the criticism is over the top negative, and personally offensive also delivered in a very impolite manner, you need to speak up and let that person know you were offended.  It may be best to take that person aside and let them know how you are feeling and how you can better your relationship to make it a productive one.  If this is not helpful, find someone at work you can trust to talk about it.  I don’t think all issues at work should be handled by HR, but if something made you feel uncomfortable then better to speak up as it may be a reoccurring issue and others previously in your position may have been feeling the same way.

7. Feedback can be a blessing.

It could be a tip on how to better manage yourself, your job and the situations you encounter at work.  I always find it helpful to run the situations by my friends and family that know me best, to get an accurate 3rd party view of the account, and it always helps me out.  Keep smiling, keep shining and bust out those nice work moves!

Happy working!  Go get ’em!

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