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Criticism and Feedback – Boon or Bane?

October 18th, 2021 . 6 minutes read
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The world is not kind to modern self-esteem. It only takes one ill remark to completely derail your day. However, it is up to you in terms of how you take it and construct it into your definition of success.

All our life we go through criticism and receive many feedbacks with regard to improving what we say, what we do or the things that we lack in.

It takes a lot as an individual to convince yourself that you’re no less than anybody else out there, that you also possess qualities and better approaches. So then, how do we avoid letting people downgrade us or hitting a stone to our self-worth?

Is it easy ? No!

Can it get better ? Yes!

But how do we use it to get better? Come, let’s take a look-

Feedback vs Criticism

Before moving on to how to withstand criticism and handle it well, we need to first understand the difference between the two too similar terms – criticism and feedback!

Let’s get going then-

Feedback vs Criticism

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, criticism is “the act of criticizing, usually unfavorably.”

It’s an act of pointing out all the mistakes that a person have made rather than focusing on his positive attributes and all the things he did good. Your attitude and behavior while criticizing someone are focused on the past confrontations and mistakes only.

On the other hand, feedback is“Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, which is wholly used as a basis for improvement.” Instead of focusing on weaknesses, feedback provides an opportunity to help correct problematic areas while building up the person’s strengths.

How to handle criticism and negative feedback?

So, there are a lot of situations in which our initial reaction is to get defensive and angry or even worse – verbally attacking the person giving feedback.
But the truth is that we need to get over it.

We need to understand the value of constructive feedback and constructive criticism, which helps us to maintain our professional relationships.

In these kinds of situations, we may take inspiration from Theodre Roosvelt’s “Man of Arena” speech, a lesson on ignoring castigators. However, faultfinders are also essential components of our growth. Both personal and professional success depends on how we take criticism in our stride.

It is very important to maintain the ability to hear and truly listen to people’s opinions, even when they are negative sometimes or maybe most of the time.

A 2018 research article evaluated constructive criticism models using focus group interviews with undergraduate students. This process identified three important requirements for negative feedback to be constructive.

  • Compassionate one: When the vibe of the statement indicates care for recipient
  • Specific one: Criticism should target the appropriate elements of the recipient’s performance
  • Matched one: Criticism should align with recipient’s emotions and motivation

By this way we can determine if a critic is trying to help or harm us.

Criticism in the workplace doesn’t really go over too well. The things we might criticize people for in the workplace are either too vague or probably too heavy to deal with. And we have all been there, haven’t we?

Either when your boss shares something negative or a co-worker delivers a withering critique of a presentation that you worked on for months. Well, all of this can cause distress to any individual, and it is very important to understand and implement the right ways of taking feedbacks and criticism.

Here are five healthy ways to deal with criticism at work-

Be open!

The first step in benefiting from criticism at work is to BE OPEN to it. Actively listen to what is being said and take time to absorb the information without jumping to any conclusion whatsoever.

Restate the statement to confirm you are both on the same page. This will give you more time to process it and ensure that you understood it correctly.

Consider your body language!

Be aware of your body language. Reduce your stress level and give your emotions a chance to settle down before you respond. Dealing with criticism at work can be challenging, and open & relaxed body language will make you feel less defensive and will save you from future negative image.

Ask questions to clarify!

Once you understand the feedback, always ask questions. Always remember it’s a two-way conversation, and it is up to you to take control of the decision.
Like many things, there is no by-the-book method of giving criticism.

So, whenever you are in situation where you have to take and give criticism you know what points you have to follow. While a good IQ can get you into your dream school or dream job, you need emotional intelligence to help you manage the stress and obstacles that come along the way.

At an unconscious level, our brain are constantly deciphering if the current situation is safe or dangerous; some psychologists refer to this as the risk/reward model.

So, when feedback is poorly delivered and risk is detected, the human brain is activated in the same areas as when we go without food or water. What’s more important is to turn these tough conversations into a situation where employees can feel safe in.

Although there isn’t much difference in criticism and feedback because criticism given with a positive and encouraging tone is feedback. So all we have to understand are the benchmark and basic points as to how we can present are thoughts on someone else’s work.

All we have to concentrate on how we can nurture a culture of feedback in the workplace. If you’re especially sensitive to receiving criticism, you may want to determine WHY. It may just be a matter of adjusting your inner dialogue to combat a lack of self-confidence or perceived inadequacies.

You should also consider the source of the comments. Is it someone whose opinion you respect? Are they interested in helping you develop, or are they merely putting you down? Either way, you should try to remain calm, focus on the facts, and move on.

You know!!

Constructive feedback and Constructive Criticism are the cornerstones of a well-rounded employee-manager relationship or any relationship at your workplace.

It is very important to remember that learning and development is ongoing for all of us, and feedbacks are not easy to give, and it’s certainly not easy to receive, but it’ll help us now and in the long run too.

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Author: Jayshree Mathur
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