Our Thoughts

The Elephant in the Room Known as Criticism

Feb 10, 2017

Criticism…Ahh… good old, heart felt, inspiring criticism.

Kidding, just the sound of the word makes me want to put up the defense. I think it is safe to say that this word has negative energy around it but have you ever asked yourself why? If you think back to the criticism that you have had in your lifetime, how much of what you received was really all that bad or 100% false? Now, I am not talking the criticism you got from grandpa or that girl in high school you used to be best friends with until you were not. My best advice for that is to take it with a grain of salt and move on.

Think about all of the performance evaluations and critiques you’ve been given. You might not have liked how it was delivered or the person that was delivering it but when you get down to the nitty gritty of it all, it was truthful, it was honest, and it was needed. Face it, you wouldn’t be the awesome powerhouse that you are today if it weren’t for a little constructive criticism along this journey called life.

Webster defines criticism as the act of criticizing usually unfavorably; a critical observation or remark. Okay, I guess I can see why the word leaves such a bad taste in our mouths, but it’s time to change our perspective and make even the worst remarks count for something. Instead of dreading those moments, let’s learn how to embrace them and take them with stride.

Get out of your feelings. Simply put, get over it. Think of criticism like feedback. Everything that is said isn’t said to be derogatory. You should always be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. This awareness will enable you to leave your emotions out of it when someone “calls you out “or notices one of your flaws, allowing you to embrace the feedback and use it to motivate you to improve. After all, isn’t the ideal goal a flawless self with flawless work?

Own it. Now that you know you’re not as good at something as you thought (or, maybe, you already knew but weren’t quite ready to acknowledge), fix it! Understand that there is always room for improvement, and be willing to make the necessary changes. Yes, I know this is not as easy as it sounds, but bear with me.

Here I go with a self-criticism. One of my flaws is prioritizing and focusing on what’s important in that moment. I have the shiny ball syndrome which means that I am easily distracted by anything that “appears” to be of utmost importance in that moment. At the end of the day, I end up leaving with unfinished tasks that all get added to the next day’s to do list. To improve, I have made myself a schedule to follow to help me get in a routine while making sure that all the tasks get the time that they deserve and are completed. I’m determined to master this. I easily could have wallowed in self- pity or simply accepted that I was not adequately doing my job. Instead, I owned the weakness and made a change.

The Elephant in the room also known as Criticism. Managers, pay attention to this one. Now that you have expressed your thoughts for improvement, your feedback, your criticism, don’t let the conversation get brushed under the rug. Hold your employees accountable for improving on the criticism that was given. It was meant to be positive and inspire productivity, otherwise valuable time was wasted. Work together on improvement ideas for moving forward, following up regularly to check progress.

Finally, employees, know your role. Managers, equip employees with the information and tools to understand and perform the expected duties. Have you ever received criticism on something that you didn’t know was a part of your job? It’s infuriating, however, even this situation has a bright side. It gives you the open door to ask questions and gain clarity on what is expected of you so that your next evaluation leaves them pulling for straws! Having clear expectations from the beginning is the only way you can truly hold yourself accountable and improve upon criticisms.

At the end of the day I want you to always remember that time is money.

Those that are taking the time to give you criticism, must see the potential that you have to do great things. By providing you with feedback, they are investing in you. How will you handle it? Are you ready for the next step in your career? The criticizer will be looking for a return on the investment. Don’t let this moment count against you. Step up to the plate, take charge, and show them that you are professional enough to handle the good, the bad, and the ugly!

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