Learning how to both take and give criticism are without a doubt two of the most difficult and awkward communication skills to master. However, do so and you’ll be a formidable force to be reckoned with in the workplace.
Whether you’re working as a team or leading it, there are some easy yet effective ways to improve the way you view critique to change it from a negative to a positive in an instant. We asked master life coach, clinical hypnotherapist and Get The Gloss Expert Jacqueline Hurst for her top career advice when it comes to hitting reset on your mindset and seeing criticism in a whole new light...
1. Critique your mindset
Other people’s actions may not be within our control, but our reactions definitely are. “Criticism is really only someone else’s opinion or judgement. Allowing someone else’s opinion or judgement to ruin your day is totally your choice,” says Jacqueline. “The first thing I would say about criticism is that thinking about something someone says as ‘criticism’ is in itself painful. Being ‘criticised’ can be something that you choose to feel totally miserable about or something you can choose to feel totally fine about. It all depends on how you think about it. It’s always up to you.”
We’ve all had those moments where we feel about ready to burst into tears when we’ve been reprimanded at work. However, if you feel on the edge of your breaking point, try humanising the person responsible - it’ll help provide a much-needed sense of objectivity when you feel the waterworks about to switch on. “It’s always good to think about things from different perspectives. Take a step back and start to think about it differently. It could be that your colleague herself/himself is having a tough time at home, maybe isn’t feeling good within themselves and in turn is being abrupt and uptight with everyone. It may not be about you. Ultimately no one can criticise you unless you ‘think’ they have,” recommends Jacqueline.
2. Don’t be cruel to be kind
Strength and kindness needn’t be mutually exclusive qualities in the workplace. If you’re the person that needs to dish out a serving of criticism, a dose of empathy could go a long way in keeping your working relationship intact and keeping any awkwardness to a minimum going forward. “If you want to give your opinion to your team members, do it nicely!” advises Jacqueline. “I remember my father telling me a great saying: ‘You get more bees with honey’ and I love this saying as it’s all about being nice to people.
“Telling people your opinion or your judgement on their work needs to be done in a way that is constructive, caring and thoughtful. You can get just as much back from people who work with you, above or below, when you are kind.”
3. Don’t take it personally
Have you ever received a piece of criticism that felt somewhat unexpected or a little out of the blue? A blow to anyone’s self-confidence, take the emotion out of your reaction and view it as an opportunity to improve yourself professionally. “Criticism could be used to your advantage. You could use it to manage your mind even further,” explains Jacqueline. “People who criticise you can be your greatest teachers, helping you to learn how to manage your mind. Whatever someone says or does is always out of your control, how you choose to think about it is up to you. You could even choose humour if you wanted to.”
By putting the power back into your hands, this tack can leave you feeling less at the mercy of other people’s thoughts and opinions both in and out of the workplace. “It’s up to you how you interpret it, perceive it and what you make it mean,” says Jacqueline.
4. Mind management
Learning how to give and take criticism are two leadership skills whose value can't be underestimated. A common trait of some of the most influential leaders in the world, it's as much about having a strong sense of self as it is about being personable.
So what makes a good leader? “Someone who knows how to manage their own mind,” says Jacqueline. “Leaders need to lead and for this they need to be mentally and emotionally intelligent and of course, motivational. A leader who knows how to manage their mind will be leading well.”
5. Positive thinking
When it comes to critique, leave ego at the door whether you’re the person taking it or dishing it out. Use it as a tool to better both yourself and your colleagues, ensuring that you always deliver it in a positive light so it’s effective and not destructive. Get the most out of your team by being as direct and genuine as possible. “Be real, be honest and be mentally and emotionally aware,” recommends Jacqueline. “It’s important to be humble and it is also very important to get your own ego out the way when managing a team. It’s important to remember it is like a rotation cycle: negativity breeds negativity and positivity breeds positivity. A positive mental attitude is the best way to lead a team. And a lot of humour!”