What Is Constructive Criticism and How to Handle It?

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Here, we discuss how to discern constructive criticism, and shared some tips on how to better handle criticism.

Photo of woman receiving criticism, cover photo for What Is Constructive Criticism and How to Handle It?
Learning to accept criticism is an important life-skill. PHOTO: Yan Krukau/Pexels

No one likes to receive negative feedback. People naturally tend to shy away from conflict and disagreements, so not many people know how to handle criticism in a constructive manner. As a result, they tend to simply ignore criticism as a whole.

In this article, we will discuss tips for differentiating constructive criticism, and how you can use it as a tool for growth rather than a source of stress. By learning how to handle criticism in a healthy and effective manner, you will be able to build resilience and improve your performance in both your personal and professional life.

Differentiating Constructive Criticism

It is important to remember that not all criticism is created equal. Constructive criticism is designed to help you improve, while non-constructive criticism is simply negative feedback without any suggestions for improvement. Being able to differentiate between the two is crucial for personal and professional growth.

Specificity of the feedback

Constructive criticism focuses on specific actions or behaviors, while non-constructive criticism is more general and often personal. For example, “Your presentation could have been more organized” is constructive, while “You’re always so disorganized” is non-constructive.

Constructive: “Your presentation could have been more organized, perhaps consider using visual aids to break up the information”

Non-constructive: “Your presentation was a mess”

Presence of Solutions

Constructive criticism offers solutions or suggestions for improvement, while non-constructive criticism is simply negative feedback without any solutions. For example, “You need to work on your time management skills, perhaps you could use a calendar to plan your tasks” is constructive, while “You’re always late” is non-constructive.

Constructive: “You need to work on your time management skills, perhaps you could use a calendar to plan your tasks”

Non-constructive: “You’re always late”

Tone of Delivery

Constructive criticism is often delivered in a calm and respectful manner, while non-constructive criticism is often delivered in a harsh or dismissive tone.

Constructive: “I understand that you’re under a lot of pressure, but I think it would be beneficial for you to take a break and come back to this later”

Non-constructive: “You’re always so stressed out, it’s impossible to work with you”

Basis of Feedback

Constructive criticism is usually based on facts, while non-constructive criticism is often based on personal opinions or biases.

Constructive: “I noticed that you didn’t meet your sales targets for the last quarter, perhaps you could benefit from additional training on how to close deals”

Non-constructive: “You’re just not good at sales”

Intention of Feedback

Constructive criticism is aimed at helping the person grow and improve, while non-constructive criticism is aimed at tearing the person down.

Constructive: “I can see that you’re putting in a lot of effort, but I think it would be helpful if you could focus on the most important tasks first”

Non-constructive: “You’re never going to be successful with that attitude”

Tips on handling Criticism

Handling criticism can be difficult for many people, but it is an important skill to have in both personal and professional settings. Here are some tips for how to better handle criticism:

1. Listen Actively

When someone is criticizing you, it is important to listen to what they have to say without becoming defensive. Try to understand the perspective of the person giving the criticism and ask questions to clarify any points that are not clear.

2. Take a step back

Before responding to criticism, take a moment to gather your thoughts and emotions. This will help you respond in a calm and measured way, rather than becoming defensive or overly emotional.

3. Look for the truth

Criticism can be hard to hear, but it’s important to consider if there is any truth to what is being said. If there is, try to learn from the criticism and make changes if necessary.

4. Separate the criticism from the person.

Remember that criticism is about your actions or work, not about you as a person. Try not to take it personally and instead focus on how to improve.

5. Communicate constructively

If you disagree with the criticism, or want to provide a different perspective, do so in a constructive and respectful manner. Avoid becoming argumentative or defensive.

6. Learn from it.

Criticism can be a valuable learning opportunity. Take the time to reflect on what you can learn from the criticism and how you can improve in the future.

Summary

Handling criticism is difficult and a skill you need to master through time and effort, but it is an important skill to have in both personal and professional settings. By being able to differentiate between constructive and non-constructive criticism, you can use it as a tool to grow.

By following the tips above, you are able to prepare yourself to handle criticism in a more effective and constructive way, and use it to improve yourself. Remember, criticism can be tough, but you absolutely must use it as an opportunity to learn, grow and improve; If it’s constructive of course!

Remember to stay open-minded, stay calm and look for the signs of constructive feedback!

For more tips on personal and professional development, please visit our blog!


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