I have something tough to say, and you probably aren't going to like it...
Did you cringe reading that? If so, you may have a tough time accepting criticism.
Don't worry though, It is safe to assume that most people have at least some sort of issue with criticism. Who wants to be told they are wrong or doing something poorly?
The thing is, being open to criticism is integral to your success. Recognizing when you are wrong is the first step towards adjusting your course until you are right! If you want to learn how to accept criticism with grace, then read on.
Are They Worth This?
The first step towards accepting criticism is to consider the source. This may sound mean, but you shouldn't care about everyone's opinion. Are you getting criticism from someone you respect? That is worth considering. If you are getting criticism from some chronic complainer you couldn't care less about - ignore them and move on.
Monitor Your First Reaction
When you first hear criticism, your "flight or fight" instinct might kick in. Try to quell this initial reaction until you have time to really consider the criticism. You don't want to get too angry or clam up and run away right away. There is nothing wrong with taking some time before responding to someone.
Embrace The Chance to Learn
At the end of the day, criticism is nothing more than a chance to learn about yourself. So instead of fearing criticism, welcome it. Try to be more curious. You might not like what you hear, but you will learn what you need to adjust or other areas of improvement you can work on.
You shouldn't have to stay quiet when you receive criticism. While you don't want to lash out angrily, be sure to ask some follow-up questions. Acknowledge that you have heard the criticism, but feel free to ask more specific questions that will help you improve in the future.
Request More Time
If you have received criticism that is particularly heavy or contentious, feel free to ask for more time to process. This is always better than responding in the heat of the moment. This will give you time to process and think about how you'd like to respond.
You Don't Know the Whole Picture
Have you ever been hit with criticism that floored you because it was so out of the blue? If this is the case, remember that you have no idea what the other person is going through. Of course, it's no excuse to take it out on you, but sometimes when you receive criticism, it is more about the giver than it is you.
Thank Your Critic
Responding with a 'thank you' will likely catch your critic by surprise. It is an unexpected response that may actually win them over. They could be impressed with your openness to receiving criticism. Your most prominent critic could end up being your biggest proponent!
Decompress with a Friend
You don't have to keep your feelings bottled up. If you are hit with a particularly hurtful criticism, reach out to a loved one to talk to them about it. They will probably be far better than you at putting things in perspective. They will remind you of how wonderful you are, and if the criticism is unwarranted, they will have your back.
Make a list of people whose criticism you'd genuinely value.
Think about loved ones, people you care about or inspirations.
Think about the people in your field who have achieved what you want.
List them all.
Reflect on the most memorable piece of criticism you received recently.
Write it down and take some time to really think about it.
Was it warranted?
Did it help you at all? Sometimes in retrospect, you can find a lesson that you never even realized you learned.
Start a criticism journal. Every time someone you respect gives you constructive criticism, write it down in a journal.
Take some time to consider if it is warranted or not.
If it is, then create an action plan to address the issues (i.e. if you lack skills, how can you acquire them).