Welcome to part two of the fourth instalment in my productivity series. To recap quickly, this post turned out to be lengthier than I’d expected. For increased readability I’m sharing each section separately.
Today I want to discuss the concept of constructive criticism and how we can better ourselves through this whilst consequently increasing our time spent in action- the aim is to be thinking, planning, doing and creating more often.
Before we get into the post, I wanted to discuss a potential change to my blogging schedule. As you likely know, I share Weekly Inspiration on a Monday and then a proper, in-depth post on Wednesday. For a while now I’ve been considering posting on a Friday also- my plan is to graduate to three posts a week but have them be shorter and more succinct. If this is something you’d like to see, let me know.
Ways to receive constructive criticism:
Allow yourself to listen and remain open, even when it hurts to do so.
Constructive criticism can hurt, regardless of the messenger. It’s perfectly okay to take space after a difficult conversation to sit with your emotions, see what comes up for you and really feel things out. Slowly, allow yourself to release whether in private or with someone you trust. Perhaps you are close enough to the person advising you and want to respond to their advice. The first step to healing is to allow yourself to breathe. Don’t hold anything in. Move forward after you feel you’ve had sufficient time to consider and reflect on the points presented to you. Acknowledge how they made you feel.
Try not to let your temporarily hurt feelings become tangled with the messenger. Resentment can sneak its way in, especially after the hard conversation is over and you’re thinking back on what was said. When this happens, remind yourself that you trust the messenger and that, ultimately, they want the very best for you. Remember that true constructive criticism comes from a place of love.
Use the criticism as a tool for you to learn and grow from.
Life and the situations we find ourselves in are all about perspective and approach. They can be made better or worse depending on our reactions. As previously mentioned, criticism can be an invitation. This step can look fairly practical, like scheduling a session with a therapist, setting aside an hour for personal journaling and meditation or better still, working on our chosen area of improvement. However you decide to navigate the feedback, take your time and have grace with yourself as you take sure and steady steps towards growth.
Don’t let your first reaction be your only reaction.
When receiving constructive criticism, we must remain relaxed with the message, the messenger and ourselves. By keeping our minds and hearts open, we can become better listeners. After all, there is an art to everything. Softening our spirit makes us less defensive and can lead to truly beautiful realisations about ourselves and the important work we do. We will begin to hear our thoughts better and a quiet, uncluttered mind will become our normal. This ensures we are fully present in all conversations.
Allow yourself to believe that constructive criticism is meant to enrich your life and relationships. While it may be painful in the moment, the words spoken are intended to grow you. Receive the message with this mindset, holding space for both the initial hurt and the intended outcome.
Ask questions to deconstruct the feedback you’ve been given.
In order to fully process the feedback you’re given, ask questions to gain clarity and aid you in finding the words to share your perspective. Avoid engaging in a debate and opt instead to ask thoughtful questions that will get you to the root of the issues being raised. From there, you can brainstorm possible solutions.
For example- say you’ve just finished a meeting with your group members on a joint project when you are approached by a friend who thinks you got a little heated. Here are a few ways to deconstruct the feedback:
Begin by seeking specific examples to help you understand the issue: “I agree I was a little frustrated but can you share when in the meeting you thought I got heated?”
Acknowledge the feedback that is not in dispute: “You’re right. I did cut her off while she was talking but made sure to apologise later on. I didn’t want to interject again by responding publicly.”
Try to understand whether this is an isolated issue or a continual problem: “Have you noticed me getting heated in other meetings?”
Finally, look for concrete solutions to address the feedback: “I’d love to hear your ideas on how I might handle this differently in the future.”
Be gracious- acknowledge the ways in which you are being supported and called lovingly to action.
May we also celebrate and champion the bravery it takes to offer constructive criticism to others. It’s not always easy to approach hard conversations, but they are often necessary to enrich our lives and relationships. Whether we’re on the receiving or offering end of constructive criticism—and we’ll experience both—may we be kind to ourselves and others, ultimately offering our calls to action with love.