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5 Ways to Handle Constructive Criticism at Work

At times, we dread an unexpected meeting with a manager to discuss where we went wrong. Some of us worry about mistakes we have made, with the idea that it will result in a demotion. Or we may be thinking the dreaded “We have to let you go” talk is the reason for the meeting.

Instead of thinking of constructive criticism as a negative experience, consider it as a life saver because your manager has decided to share your strengths and give you tips for improvement instead of keeping you in the dark about their concerns. My mother used to tell me, “You have to learn how to separate harsh feedback with advice to inspire yourself to grow.”

We outlined a few pointers that will help you rise to the top of success after your next meeting.

1. Think before you speak

It is common to start thinking negatively when a manager is providing feedback. Before you get defensive, ask for examples to get an understanding of what happened. If your manager works in a different location or you telecommute, request a video chat versus a telephone conversation.

Managers are meant to challenge us and, at times, will ask you unexpected questions that include “Where do you see yourself in five years?” They might want to figure out if you are fit for a promotion or to see if you actually like your job. When it is time to share your thoughts, take a deep breath, and think about what you are going to say next.

2. Find out where you went wrong

This point will help you search for information to determine if you made a mistake. Managers are only human and, at times, their constructive criticism is based on your colleague’s feedback.

At the same time, we are all adults and need to take responsibility for our actions. The wise John C. Maxwell once said that “A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them and strong enough to correct them.”

3. Perfectionists make mistakes too

Train your mind to think that your manager has your best interest in mind and wants to see you grow. We are not perfect, but we can work towards perfection. Step outside of yourself and ask, “Do I need to take courses to improve? Can I find a mentor in my field?

According to this article in Entrepreneur, if you believe your manager has crossed the line of respect during a meeting, it is completely fine to tell them you are upset. Most of the time, they want to see you succeed and while disrespect should not be tolerated, consider their advice to move on and progress.

4. Ask yourself, “Am I going to use this feedback?”

At the end of the day, success will always depend on you. If you avoid being defensive, you deserve a pat on the back. It shows that you are mature and have the confidence to bounce back from a temporary defeat.

Shortly after the meeting, think about the points that were given. Ask yourself if you can set realistic goals and present them to your manager whether she asks for it or not. Prove to yourself that you have what it takes to turn a weakness into a strength by setting timelines and making changes every day.

5. Stay on top of your progress

It would be convenient if we lived in a world where managers track our progress. If you are comfortable, put up a sticky note of areas of improvement somewhere on your desk. If you need to improve sales, it will encourage you to make a few more calls every day. Maybe you need to be more social with colleagues. It will inspire you to ask them out for lunch once or twice a month. The last thing you want to do is tell your manager that you will do whatever it takes and six months pass by, and you are making the same mistakes.

Before you start searching for signs to starting looking for a new job, remember that your manager has these meetings with their boss; you are not the only one. Listen carefully for the golden nuggets and add them to your to-do list. Take our advice and you will thank us later. Good luck!

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About the Author Makeda Waterman

Makeda Waterman is a professional writer with an Education in Journalism, Mass Communications, and Public Relations. She writes for Huffington Post Canada and Glassdoor on career advice with the goal of helping people improve the quality of their lives.

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