How to Handle Constructive Criticism

Getting feedback can help make a project or presentation become truly great. The hard part is taking the constructive criticism that comes with it. No one likes hearing that their hard work could use improvement – but you’ll have to suck it up if you want to know how it will be received by an audience.

Constructive criticism is meant to help make improvements on what is being critiqued. That differs from regular criticism, which is usually delivered with the intent of making the other person feel inferior. This type of criticism damages relationships, but constructive criticism can actually foster and strengthen them. Here’s how to handle constructive criticism for the best possible outcome.


Be Gracious

Though you might not like or agree with what they say, someone who offers you their feedback is doing you a favor by taking the time to do so. Don’t get upset about their comments and definitely don’t take it personally. In fact, try not to have any reaction – just focus on hearing them out and be respectful. Stay calm and don’t lose your cool. Remember, whatever they say, it’s not about you.


Listen with Intent

The whole purpose of receiving constructive criticism is to improve your work and skills. When you’re listening to someone’s feedback, keep in mind the reasons and benefits behind asking for it in the first place. As you’re listening, have the intention to take their feedback and use it to your benefit. Your intention should be to gather information from the critic and apply it to meeting your goals.


Understand the Message

The feedback you get won’t be helpful if you don’t understand it completely. During the feedback session, allow the speaker to finish their piece before interrupting. Then, repeat back to them what they said to check for understanding. Also take the time to clarify any misunderstandings on their end (but again, don’t get defensive). Don’t judge or analyze what they’ve said, but rather take this time to process their message. If what they said sounds harsh, they likely didn’t mean it that way. Giving feedback isn’t easy!


Thank the Critic

A sincere “thank you” will go a long way. Let them know that you appreciate their honest feedback. Even if you don’t agree with all their comments, you’re sure to learn at least one thing that will help make your work better. Be grateful for that.


Ask Questions

When you’re sure you’ve understood the feedback, asking questions is a great way to get more specific information from your critic. Probe them for details on specific examples of where you can improve, and seek advice on ideas for making that happen. They may have just the solution for you, and getting additional feedback can help make the next step easier.


Be Proactive

Now that you’ve survived constructive criticism, it’s time to take it and run with it. Make the necessary changes based on the feedback you received, and do it while it’s fresh in your mind, before you forget about the comments and solutions you discussed. If you feel it’s necessary, you can ask for feedback on a revised version of what you’re working on. Again, not everything your critics say may be relevant to you, but if you seek feedback, don’t let it go to waste. Constructive criticism can make a positive outcome for your work goals.

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