Often times we find ourselves unable to deal with criticism from an outside source. Our reaction is using one involving us telling that person to not judge, or the infamous, “Then do it yourself.” However, after reading a recent article, I have come to realize that dealing with criticism and feedback are absolutely critical skills to have in both the workplace and life in general.
The importance of accepting criticism and feedback was realized again recently, when Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, visited the Airbnb headquarters and was asked a simple question: “What’s the number one thing you look for in someone who can scale with the company?” In other words, what is the most important thing you look for in a job candidate that you hope will grow as the company grows and is successful? Sandberg’s response was quite direct, “Someone who takes feedback well. Because people who can take feedback well are people who can learn and grow quickly.” Short and to the point. Sandberg is absolutely right. People who that can demonstrate the ability to respond positively to criticism are the type of people that learn and grow the most because it forces them to see how they can get better and improve what they are doing. This is a great skill to have for anyone regardless of job title or level.
More often than not, emotion gets in the way of our attempts to deal constructively when we are offered criticism. When we receive negative feedback, our initial reaction a significant percentage of time is to get angry at the person offering the feedback and to tune them out and not listen. This is a reactive response to something that should be turned into a learning and growing experience. In order for this learning experience to happen, we must ask ourselves questions like, “How can I get better?” and “What can I learn from this person’s point of view?” In doing so, we force ourselves to see our faults and the different areas in which we can improve.
Criticism and feedback are always going to be a part of anything that you do in life. Whether the feedback was asked for or not, does not matter. In each piece of feedback, there are some truths to be learned. Only when we stop for a moment and teach ourselves that criticism should not elicit an emotional response can we begin to learn to see feedback and criticism as a positive path on which to move forward.