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How Can I Learn to Accept Constructive Criticism?

Being unable to accept constructive criticism can have a negative effect on relationships.
Someone who is emotionally fragile might not handle criticism well.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 December 2014
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The ability to accept constructive criticism comes very easily to some people, while others have a difficult time processing any comments that touch on the abilities or competence of the individual. Still, learning to accept suggestions that are intended to improve performance in some aspect of our lives can be the first step in becoming a better person. Here are a few things to keep in mind about the nature of constructive criticism and how to become more comfortable with receiving and processing this form of personal critique.

One of the first steps in accepting suggestions for improvement is to remove emotions from the equation. This may be difficult to accomplish, the but effort is well worth the results. By not allowing our sense of ego or our tender feelings to stand in the way of objectively considering the comments concerning our behavior, we open the door to possibly accept constructive criticism and learn something that will help improve the quality of our lives.

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Second, it is important to recognize that the person offering the criticism is doing so in an effort to help, not hurt. Choosing to see the remarks in this light makes it easier to see the critic as an ally, rather than a foe. Ultimately, both of you have the same goal in mind, which is to help you become even better at something than you already are. When you can accept constructive criticism as a tool for improvement offered by a friendly source, you go a long way toward achieving personal growth.

Last, defuse any seemingly harsh comments by asking for clarification from the critic. The fact is that most of us sometimes have trouble choosing the right words. If something your critic states does not seem to have merit, ask for examples of your behavior that illustrate the point he or she is trying to make. This exercise will help you understand how your actions are perceived, and also present the chance for both of you to examine a real life situation and explore together how that event could have been handled in a more productive manner.

Accepting constructive criticism is important for just about everyone. Whether in the workplace, in the community, or even in the home, the ability to receive and accept constructive criticism can have a positive impact on our relationships. By remaining objective, asking clarifying questions, and seeing your critic as your ally, it is possible to learn to accept constructive criticism in the spirit that was intended.

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Malka
Post 4

@Hawthorne: I guess you're right, text does come across as cold. The smiley face thing is a good idea -- I'll try to imagine some smilies in the critiques I have and see if that helps make them seem less mean. Thanks for the reply.

Hawthorne
Post 3

@Malka: Remember, don't get too emotional about it -- ultimately, they're only trying to help you improve. Look at the comments again. Since they're in text, what if they only seem to have a critical and mean 'tone' when you read them in your head? It's really hard to convey tone in text, and unfortunately some people who leave constructive critique can come across as harsh if they type short sentences, phrase things certain ways, and only mention the parts that need improvement without adding any compliments on what they did like.

To soften up my text critiques I use lots of text smiley faces to show that my tone is a relaxed and positive one. =)

Malka
Post 2

I think constructive criticism is really important when it's done tactfully, but a lot of people who leave constructive critisicm for me sound kind of mean about it. They're comments in text on my online art gallery, and I usually don't reply since they comment just telling me what's wrong with my picture and how to 'fix' it. Like I don't already know what's wrong with it, you know?

hanley79
Post 1

Constructive criticism is great -- and the more people who get offended at receiving it, the less other people give any constructive criticism because they assume that their time and effort to try and help is going to not only not be followed, but will also receive a negative reaction. Anybody reading this, please, please try to see constructive criticism for what it really is: somebody taking time and effort out of their lives to offer you some advice on how to better whatever it is that you're doing.

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