Don’t Take it Personally – Part One: How to Accept Criticism at Work & Use it as Fuel for Your Growth

Let’s be honest, we all wish we were perfect. Wouldn’t that make life easier? It might. But it would also make it a lot more boring! When it comes to growing and becoming a successful professional (and person) the key is seeking out and integrating constructive criticism and feedback with grace and applying it—rather than going on the defensive and ignoring the observations of your peers and manager. So, how do you accept criticism without taking it personally? How do you apply it to help you reach your goals? Today, we are sharing a few tips you can use to embrace feedback to reach that next level in your career!

How to Control the Feedback Narrative

The way you request and respond to feedback is all up to you. You can control that narrative! Here’s how:
Proactively Ask for Feedback
Feedback is easier to manage when you get it more often. If you’re only getting feedback from your manager at annual review time, it can be a lot to soak in all at once. Try to be self-aware and honest with yourself about areas you’re struggling with. Ask your manager to provide feedback on specific skills during your weekly catch-up meeting and you’ll make it easier for them to be honest with you. For example, if you struggle with your confidence in meetings, don’t hide that! Share with your manager and ask if they could support you with feedback, suggestions, and tips to overcome that struggle. In the end, their feedback will lead to growth opportunities that will benefit you and your entire team. You can also do this exercise with your peers, as sometimes it’s easier to hear it from them than your manager.
Always Search for the Lesson
The intention of feedback is to give opportunities for growth. What’s the lesson the feedback can teach you? Positive or negative, there will always be an opportunity hidden beneath the surface. Rather than going on the defensive, ask for time to process the feedback before responding if you feel your reaction will be negative. Then, really analyze it and think about what there is to be learned from the situation. Even if you don’t agree entirely, there’s almost always at least an element of truth in the feedback you receive and an opportunity to grow.
Allow Yourself to Be Vulnerable
Being vulnerable isn’t always easy. But that’s where the greatest growth happens. Tough conversations aren’t meant to be comfortable. But they are meant to help you reach the next level. No one is born perfect. Everyone has things they need to learn and improve upon. Be willing to admit to yourself and others that you have things to work on—it’s not a secret, so why shy away from it?

Always Apply Feedback to Reach the Next Level

So, once you receive feedback from your manager or peers, how do you apply it?
Create Action Item Lists for Yourself
Looking at where you’re at and where you’re going, what steps do you need to take to get there? After your feedback meeting, create a list of action items you need to check off that will help you overcome the obstacles facing you. Ask your manager for help if you would like someone to review it and provide thoughtful feedback that may help! Remember, feedback is good and having an accountability partner can help keep you on the path to improvement!
Complete a Training for Added Help
If you’re still struggling after trying to tackle your areas of growth alone, it may be time to recruit a little professional assistance. You can find virtual training programs that are geared towards the area in which you need to grow. Perhaps you can find a Linkedin Learning training, or you can take it a step further and find a business coach to help you through. It’s important to cultivate a safe place to practice and push the edges of your comfort zone!
Schedule a Follow-Up Meeting
Once you receive feedback, it’s important to not think about it just once and then move on. Schedule a follow-up meeting for six weeks later so you have time to analyze, take actions towards improving, and then get feedback on how you’ve progressed! It’s important to acknowledge your hard work and see where you’ve made improvements that have helped you and your team.

Do You Struggle with Feedback? NimblyWise Can Help.

If even with all these tips you still believe you’ll struggle to not internalize or take feedback personally, that’s something that you may need coaching to overcome. Feedback and constructive criticism can be hard to accept, but they’re crucial for growth. The moment you can detach your self-worth with negative feedback and see it as a chance to become a better version of yourself is when the real change happens. Our NimblyWise Real-Time Learning program helps young professionals with scenarios like this daily. Know you’re not alone and there are resources to help you succeed— let’s chat about how NimblyWise can be that resource for you!