Dealing with Criticism
Performance in every facet of your life comes with a great opportunity and a great responsibility. The opportunity is that we strive to compete and perform to our highest ability because we are normally driven to achieve the goal before us. That opportunity is the carrot at the end of the stick, right? Even more than that, the internal drive to gather our own resources and find the “extra kick” when things get difficult is the greatest opportunity of performance settings because it is the best time to learn about ourselves. Whether it is a trophy, a championship, a promotion, or a sales win, that drive to reach the opportunity is a powerful motivator.
The responsibility of performance comes at a higher level. Throughout all levels of training and development, there are coaches, managers, and trainers that have had to share honest and direct feedback to our development. While we want it to be soft and easy, the truth is the only feedback that consistently drives future performance is honest, constructive coaching. During training, it may be perceived as criticism and it may hurt our own self-image, breaking down the self-elevated persona that we are above criticism. It is important to understand that it is important for growth and development, whether we like it or not. No success has ever been achieved without a few scars along the way, a few kicks in the back, and a few periods that forced us to question our internal resolve to continue.
Honest and constructive feedback has many ways to be interpreted – criticism, coaching, development, sarcasm, or anger. The truth is that we are the ones that have to interpret it and that is a choice. Understand that, for the most part, coaches, trainers, and managers share the feedback because they want us to reach the heights that they believe we can reach, which is often higher that what we believe in ourselves. Feedback can be hard to hear and it may hurt, but try to understand the message behind it. It is not that they do not like us, have it out for us, or are too hard on us. The truth is that they would not share the constructive feedback unless they loved us on a much deeper level. That love is on a humanistic level, as they are committed to helping each of us reach the desires we set up. They are invested in our development.
The next time you receive constructive feedback, no matter how harsh, think before you make a judgment, think before you react, and try and listen for the true message in there. What do they want you to do? Do not mistake the delivery for the intent of the message. Listen for the message and your own handling of criticism, feedback, and coaching will move from resistance to engagement.
No champion has ever stood on the podium or in the winner’s circle without standing on the shoulders of all those that have helped them get there. It takes a team to reach excellence.
Embrace it and listen for that message.