Criticism. Criticism is that thing you brought home from the office; it’s what keeps you up at night, and that thing you may have been carrying on your shoulders for years.
Often, criticism may be seen in a negative light. But in what many see, very few notice that criticism is an opportunity: for growth, strength, and a chance to surpass expectations.
So how do you do it? How do you turn a negative into a positive?
Here are 7 steps in dealing with criticism positively and using them for opportunities:
Step 1: Don’t Take It Personally
This aspect is challenging if we are sensitive about our work. But the energy put into worrying or genuinely caring about the criticism is futile and counterproductive.
Often, the criticism that affects us the most come from those who are closest to us, whether it be in our personal lives or the workforce. Rather than dealing with criticism as a setback, look at it as advice to make you better.
If I can handle receiving feedback in a positive way, then I can open my mind and give myself room to grow. This growth translates into being able to handle running a business and listening to my customers’ needs and concerns – ultimately leading to positive results.
Next time you receive criticism, say thank you.
Step 2: Know Your Limits
At the end of the day, we are human. We may want to be everything to everyone, but in the end, we can’t be everywhere at once.
One of the things I have learned in my career is that it’s okay to say no. Over-piling your plate with tasks and duties can be stressful, ineffective, and self-defeating.
Next time you receive criticism for saying no, remember to be proud that you were able to recognize your limitations. Saying no means you know your truth.
Step 3: From Feedback to Action
Ever received criticism and that statement stuck with you like a label? How can you move forward into an opportunity, if you allow criticism to hold you back and stay stagnant? Turn feedback into action!
If someone tells you, your emails are too wordy, rather than over-thinking how you write your next email, (thank them) then ask that person for advice on how to make your emails more concise and straight to the point. This way of dealing with criticism can help you be a better version of yourself.
Step 4: Embrace Failure
Although I choose to put criticism to good use, it does not mean I will always be successful. Failure is a precious thing. The first time I heard someone say that, I did not understand what they meant.
Recently, I took on a large project that required producing original and engaging content. Typically, I choose to apply various techniques to improve my writing skills. However, this time, my ambition worked against me. Although I felt confident about the work, I still failed.
The reason for my failure? I was not an expert in that industry. I was unfamiliar with specific jargon that that industry used. Bottom line: I was not the subject matter expert, and I did not accept my limitations.
When someone criticizes you, he or she may not always give you the big picture. You can take their suggestions and apply it, but there will be times when it’s not enough. The only way you will see the big picture is not IF you fail, but WHEN you fail.
That is when you can put all of the pieces together, apply it as a whole and develop wisdom. You know what they say:
“One step back, two steps forward.”
Step 5: Recognizing Critical People
Dealing with criticism positively, accepting feedback, and turning it into action are all things that can help you grow. But there may be times when you may find yourself receiving critical advice from a critical person.
“When a person shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou
Critical people cannot always be satisfied. As mentioned before, you are not perfect. Regardless of their motive, just be humble and be kind. In the past, I had someone provide me with feedback that was inaccurate. There was no need to prove them wrong; I just had to respect their views and move on.
There is a difference between someone who is critical and someone who is honest. Honesty is incredibly valuable in business, as there are times when honesty is hard to come across. An honest person’s feedback often comes with a genuine care for you and your well-being.
Step 6: Build Trust
Trust is set on a solid foundation. If someone has your best interest and is honest with you, reciprocating the gesture will lead to confidence. Building trust takes time, but if you can stay true to what you stand for, especially in business, it can go a long way.
Step 7: Be Consistent
Healthy habits can easily develop in a short amount of time, but remaining consistent takes discipline. To believe you can turn criticism into an opportunity is a practice you must perform every single day.
With enough focus and determination (sprinkled with some creativity), you will produce effective work while not letting criticism undermine you.
There will be times when you may not be consistent in churning out great writing, or you might find a project that’s too big, or that you may take it on because you think you can do anything. However, the main point of this is not to be so critical of yourself. Instead, develop solid, consistent work that will translate into other areas of your life.
How Dealing with Criticism Helped Me Create Opportunity
It’s crazy to think that 14 months ago, I got the nerve to start my business from the criticism I received over the years.
When I began to view it in a different light, I saw this assessment as a fun challenge and worked on improving production. Accepting criticism is an important life skill. It made me stronger; I was able to hone my skills and improve my techniques.
Once I was able to recognize criticism as a motivator – not an inhibitor – I then was able to turn criticism into an opportunity. An opportunity to start my own business, to explore other industries, to have the freedom to choose my clients, and an opportunity to make time for what matters most in my life, as well as my spirituality.
Now that I have this chance, I have the ability and the platform to share and inspire my results with others. I can offer wisdom that was shared with me, and encourage others to do the same.
So today, I ask you to take criticism and use it to your advantage. When dealing with criticism, use them as stepping stones to overcoming obstacles and going after new opportunities to be a better friend, spouse, parent, or entrepreneur.
Don’t limit yourself to what someone says or labels you as. Step out of your comfort zone and discover what you are capable of accomplishing. Explore your limits, go back to the basics. Somewhere along the way, you will learn who to trust and who to brush off.
Dealing with criticism isn’t easy. When you continue to grow successfully, remember it’s important to build trust and stay consistent. Share the knowledge you received over the years with others. Keep this positive cycle by remembering to give back and stay humble.