Why You Should Learn to Love Constructive Feedback
Most people prefer praise to criticism. It simply feels better to hear that we are doing everything right instead of acknowledging the places we need to grow. But if you react negatively to constructive feedback, you are missing a valuable opportunity.
Perfectionism is a professional blind spot that doesn’t serve you. We all have areas where growth is possible. Feedback helps us identify and address things we need to change and improve. And since most people don’t receive feedback well, you will stand out as a true professional when you do.
Instead of dreading your next performance review, here are some strategies for accepting feedback like a pro:
Don’t Take it Personally
Ideally, professional feedback should not be personalized. It should focus on a behavior that can be changed or an action that can be taken. Even if your boss is not skilled at communicating in this way, resolve to interpret criticism through a detached, action oriented lens. Keep the focus on the work.
Don’t Get Defensive
Our instinctive reaction to constructive feedback might be to argue or make excuses. Resist the urge. Even if you are not sure you agree with the feedback, just listen. Hear it and consider it. If it’s not accurate or appropriate you don’t need to act on it, but it serves you well to consider the possibility that there may be something there that can help you improve.
The most successful people (at all levels) invite regular feedback, both positive and constructive. They want to know how to get better and they are smart enough to know that they may not always recognize where changes need to happen. Hopefully your organization has a culture of providing ongoing guidance. If not, ask your manager and your colleagues to tell you their thoughts on how you can get better.
While you may never actually learn to love it, being receptive to constructive feedback is a powerful career advancement tool.
Michele Murphy is the Alumni Career Educator at alumni UBC. For support at every stage of your career development process, visit us on alumni.ubc.ca/careers, and follow us on Twitter @alumniUBCcareer.
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