Receiving feedback at work and school is universally difficult. It’s hard not to take criticism personally when you’ve poured your time, attention and passion into something only to hear, “we need to rethink this.”
However, there are some ways to remove your personal ego when receiving feedback, allowing yourself to take an objective approach to improving your production and demeanor at work or school. Below are three techniques I’ve used that have worked for me and have actually been recognized in performance reviews.
- The “Common Goal” Mentality
For the majority of situations, your boss or professor isn’t giving you feedback to hurt your feelings or give you extra work. You boss is giving you feedback to create a better end product and improve your capabilities as an employee.
The trick here is removing your ego from the situation and taking a step back to think “if my manager had given somebody else the same feedback, would I disagree?”
You are all working to the common goals of creating an excellent end product and developing you as a professional. Recognize that the more feedback you can incorporate, the better your project will be and the easier you will be to manage.
- Recognize That You Are Not, In Fact, Perfect
You are not perfect. Nobody expects you to be. The quicker you can acknowledge your (very) human and endearing imperfections the quicker you will be able to make progress and grow in your abilities.
Whenever we have a new teammate join our department, this conversation inevitably happens:
Them: “Hey Grace, I’m so sorry to bug you but I have a question about how this process works”
Me: “Please don’t be sorry! You’re new and nobody expects you to walk in day one understanding everything. Ask me any questions you want!”
Nobody expects you to be perfect or a mind reader. If some development happens on a project you’re working on and you don’t know until your boss updates you, don’t get upset that you were left out. Thank her for updating you and ask to be looped into conversations if they affect your work.
- You Can Always Challenge Feedback
In life and in work, we always have a choice. We cannot control what people say about or to us, but we can control our response to it.
If a criticism or piece of feedback is hurtful, call it out. Your boss/professor may have said a flippant remark, but she doesn’t know that it hurt until you tell her.
You are the only person who knows how you truly feel and it’s your job to stick up for yourself (without getting combative or overly emotional).
Also, if you disagree with a suggestion, by all means, share an alternative option. This conversation will allow you to show your expertise and prove yourself as a trusted partner for your boss.
What techniques do you use to open yourself up to suggestions?
****For this unique post, Campus to Career thanks Grace Meiners!!****
About the author: Grace has been working in NYC-based media companies for six years and is working to develop a blog focus on building soft skills