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August 22, 2013 / Brad Squibb

How receptive are you to negative feedback?

It’s a natural human reaction: when someone says something negative about us, we put up our defenses. From cooking to parenting skills to how well we do our jobs, life is full of critique. How receptive are you to feedback when it’s given?

Constructive criticism is particularly valuable in your professional life. If you baulk at negative feedback, you’re missing out on a great career opportunity. Yes, that’s right, we said great career opportunity.

Rather than getting defensive, you need to view the critique as an opportunity to improve how you do your job and enhance your value as an employee. This basic concept can be the key to success and career advancement.

Still not sure you can take negative feedback with grace and use it to your advantage? Here are a few tips to help:

1. Avoid a “put up your dukes” mentality
When your boss or a respected colleague provides a negative critique, avoid immediately getting defensive or playing the blame game. Providing an excuse won’t solve the issue, but really listening to what the person says demonstrates your professionalism and dedication to your job.

2. Be calm and ask questions
You’re not interrogating a perpetrator, but remember it’s important to ask a few key questions to really learn more about what is being done incorrectly. Staying calm and asking questions shows you’re genuinely interested. By learning more about the issue, it might be revealed it’s just a simple misunderstanding.

3. Assume good intentions
You should always assume critiques from managers and respected colleagues are coming with good intentions. The information is meant to help you, not hurt you. Then take some time to self-reflect and realign your goals. Some changes are easy fixes and others take time. Always try to stay positive.

4. View it as a challenge
Rather than getting down on yourself about missing the mark, turn the situation around and view the critique as a challenge. Think of ways you can fix the issue and make strides toward better performance. We all have faults, but those of us who can learn from our mistakes and correct our shortcomings are the ones positioned for success.

5. Bond with your boss
Any good supervisor knows helping employees learn and grow is part of the job. If your boss gives you constructive criticism, use it as an opportunity to show your boss you’re capable of change. Communicate with him or her about your ideas for correcting any issues and schedule regular meetings to discuss. It’s a great way to deepen your relationship.