Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. - Winston Churchill
So … it happened.
You were just blindsided by some constructive criticism. To make things more uncomfortable, it stung a bit. Perhaps the person who delivered it didn’t use tact, or maybe even the feedback you received wasn’t relevant. Nonetheless, you now have to deal with the information you just received.
Believe it or not, how you handle this moment will have a lasting impact on your relationship with who delivered the criticism. Research has shown that if you do nothing and say nothing about the criticism, your relationship won’t improve. But if you can respond with a leadership response, engage in follow-up, and show that you’ve taken the feedback to heart, your manager/ boss/ friend/ spouse/ customer/ client’s perception of you and your performance will become increasingly more favorable.
Here’s how to LEED when you receive criticism:
- Listen. Even though your instincts are to get upset or become defensive, calm them down so you can truly hear the information that you’re receiving.
- Express Appreciation. Thank the person for sharing this information with you. When you express appreciation, you’re not agreeing with the person – you’re acknowledging that you know how hard it was for them to share it with you and you’re grateful that you have the type of relationship where they can bring this to your attention.
- Evaluate it. After you receive it, consider how the feedback relates to your performance in the role. Also evaluate the relevancy of the information you are receiving. Sometimes evaluation can take time; after receiving feedback, it’s okay to share, “Wow. You’ve given me something to think about. Can I spend a few minutes considering this before I give you a reply?”
- Decide. Not every piece of criticism is a mandate. Sometimes you’ll choose to do nothing with it. Sometimes, though, you’ll discover a small action you can take that will make you better.
When you receive criticism well, you’re not only expanding your communication abilities, but you’re showcasing to others that you can be trusted with information and that you value candor and honesty.