How To Use Criticism To Boost Your Career

by Raven Ishak

When you work hard on an assignment, the last thing you want is for your boss to critique it. Ideally, you would probably love to receive a pat on the back for all your effort. But what if I told you there's a way to use criticism to boost your career? While you already might be really good at your job, there's always room for improvement. It can be easy to get offended when someone tells you how you could have done something better, especially when that critique comes from your boss. It's normal that you want to be viewed as the perfect employee, where your boss can rely on you for everything and anything. But it's also OK for your boss to be honest about your work by telling you how to improve it. Instead of viewing criticism as a negative thing, you should use it to your advantage to help boost your career.

"Regardless of whether you're the CEO or entry-level assistant, it's hard to hear criticism. If you find yourself on the receiving end of this, the first question to ask yourself is, "Is this constructive criticism?" If it's not, and rather criticism just for the sake of cutting you down, the best you can do is remind yourself that you're doing the best you can. If someone wants to call out your faults with no intention of helping you improve, it's probably a reflection of some inadequacy that they're feeling. And you don't have any business feeling back about that," says career coach Kim Wensel in an interview with Bustle over email.

Now I'm not saying that every critique you're given is right and good for your career. Some criticism can come from a bad place. But listen to your gut and analyze who gives you criticism. You'll most likely know who wants to help you verses who wants to hold you back. Either way, there's a way to use constructive criticism to your advantage and here are 11 ways to use it to boost your career.

1. Don't Overreact

Whatever you do, don't make a scene. The last thing you want is for your employees or boss to think you're not mature enough to handle constructive criticism at the workplace. "The most important thing to remember when [you receive] criticism is to truly listen and not to react. Even if [you're] burning on the inside, it is never a good idea to get in a public, verbal argument. Take the high road by demonstrating patience, understanding and a willingness to accept feedback for necessary improvements," says co-founder and chief people & operations officer of Wirkn Francois Jobin in an interview with Bustle over email.

2. Think Of Criticism As Feedback

Don't get offended if someone critiques you. Try to view it from a positive perspective and figure out how you can use it. "Take every form of criticism as feedback about work habits. It can often highlight a blind spot that can be used positively to grow," says Jobin.

3. Reframe The Criticism By Using It To Your Advantage

"Criticism makes everyone angry, frustrated, confused, and possibly like they want to give up. Reframe the feedback to turn it into an advantage. Even take notes on what did not get criticized, and continue to shine in those areas of work," says Jobin. Turn a negative situation into a positive by figuring out how you can use constructive criticism to make you into a better employee. It's important to recognize your flaws and work on them to make them better.

4. Analyze How You Should Interpret The Negative Feedback

Before you get defensive, analyze who gave you the negative feedback and if it comes from a good place. "Think about whether the person providing the feedback had a political agenda, offered advice one-on-one or publicly as well as their role in work processes (boss, peer or customer). All of these factors impact how the feedback should be interpreted," says Jobin.

5. Consider It A Gift

"If your manager is willing to provide you with constructive criticism, consider yourself fortunate. When properly leveraged, this feedback is a valuable tool that can help you correct behavior that may be hurting your performance and hindering your progression within the organization," says career advice expert for TopResume Amanda Augustine in an interview with Bustle over email. If your boss gives you constructive criticism, that means they care enough about you as an employee to want to help you grow. They know you can improve and want to see you strive to become better at your job.

6. Use The Negative Feedback To Rectify The Situation

You can either ignore the constructive criticism and continue to receive it from your boss because you don't want to change your behavior or you can use it to rectify the situation. "If you receive negative feedback, see it as a unique opportunity to rectify the situation. Approach these conversations with an open mind and a willingness to listen. Assume that this information is being shared with the best intentions. This feedback will help your career, so be grateful someone is willing to give it to you," says Augustine.

7. Ask For Specifics

"Vague feedback isn’t offering any favors. Ask your manager to describe specific examples of your behavior or work that wasn’t ideal. If you’re unsure why this action is deemed unacceptable, request more details. What was the outcome of this behavior? How did it affect your manager, the client or customer, or other team members? How did it change the way people regard you in the office? In their opinion, how could you have done things differently?" says Augustine. It's always a good idea to comprehend why you receive a critique because how can you change something when you don't know the full story?

8. Say Thank You

It's important to express gratitude when you have received helpful constructive feedback. This little step can make you seem opened to constructive criticism. "If you receive negative feedback, express your genuine appreciation for their honesty. This will ensure they continue to provide feedback in the future. If you close yourself off and become defensive, your colleague or boss will be less likely to share feedback in the future," says Augustine.

9. Communicate With Your Boss

It's important to communicate with your boss about how you feel about the critique and what you hope to do with it. You want to show that you've considered what they have told you and how you want to change your behavior. "Note the kinds of situations that trigger you to act certain ways that’s hurting your career and create a game plan to help you change your ways. Don’t be afraid to tell a trusted colleague or your manager that you’re working to improve or change a certain behavior, and ask them to let you know if they observe you making the same mistake in the future. Often, we’re unaware of when we fall back into these bad habits, so it’s great if you can enlist others to help you overcome them," says Augustine.

10. Look At The Situation As A Whole

Instead of feeling like a victim, look at the situation as a whole and consider how you can turn things around for the better. "Ask yourself, 'What's one thing I could do differently to change this less than desirable outcome?' By doing this, you're looking at the situation as a whole and picking one thing you could do differently rather than feeling like the criticism is a reflection of everything you're producing at work," Wensel.

11. Change Your Behavior

One of the best ways to boost your career is by changing your work habits after when your boss provides constructive feedback. It can show them that you're listening and willing to improve your behavior for the better. "You need to actually change your behavior to see if you get a more desirable outcome. The best way to know if it's working? Ask for feedback. Go to the person who criticized you previously and let them know that you appreciate them pointing it out, point out that you have been working on the issue, and ask if they've noticed a change. This will show that you're receptive to feedback, value your role on the team, and want to do whatever is necessary to be most successful," says Wensel.

Even though it sucks to receive criticism, it's important to view it in a positive way. You can use it to your advantage, rectify the situation, and consider it as a gift. All these tips can help you use criticism to help boost your career so you can grow professionally and personally.

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