Magazine article Work & Family Life

Making Critical Feedback Work for You

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Making Critical Feedback Work for You

Article excerpt

It's easy to give lip service to how much we want and need feedback from our coworkers, supervisors and teachers. But when it comes-and it is negative-many of us are more sensitive than we care to admit.

Flaw-finding is the most dominant approach to giving feedback or criticism, says Robert Cooper, author of The Other 90% (Crown Business). This may explain why so many people experience feedback as a disturbing negative encounter.

"We all like to say that we want people to be honest with us," says Jane."But some of us are more thin-skinned than others-and too much 'honesty' can feel a little hurtful. The temptation with some people is to just tell them what they want to hear."

Learning from feedback

Receiving critical feedback-especially when it seems accurate-is uncomfortable indeed. But our ability to deal with it productively affects the way we are perceived by our coworkers and supervisors and, ultimately, how well we do our jobs.

When we resist learning from feedback, people may assume that we don't really care or that we're egotistical or perhaps our self-esteem is so shaky we get "blown away" when anyone suggests we might do something differently. In any case, we're seen as someone who doesn't want to grow and change.

Don't take it personally

The tendency to become defensive is probably the worst barrier to one's ability to learn from criticism. Try not to take feedback personally-and don't think of criticism as an attack, even though it may feel that way sometimes. This will help you resist the urge to "strike back" and "even the score."

Granted, this is easier said than done, particularly if the criticism was heavy-handed. …

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