I was asked by a reporter today what one skill I thought was most critical for business success. It was really hard to narrow it down to just one skill because a savvy business person needs lots of talents, skills and attributes.
The skill I chose was the ability to accept criticism. And, this applies whether the person doing the critiquing is doing it in kindness or is rather “rough” in their comments to you.
Merriam-Webster defines criticism as “the act of expressing disapproval and of noting the problems or faults of a person or thing”.
The first thing we need to realize is that all of us have faults – none of us are perfect. And, I believe that most of us want to eliminate faults and continuously improve ourselves. However, we often have trouble hearing that someone doesn’t think we’re perfect. Our feelings can be hurt and we feel vulnerable or disliked.
That’s the part we need to get over! Instead of allowing our feelings to be hurt and putting up a protective barrier, we need to practice hearing the words – the criticism. Once the words are heard and acknowledged, we then have the opportunity to evaluate whether they are true or just the verbal result of someone lashing out because they are wounded.
If you come to the conclusion that the words have merit, thank that person for pointing out something that you can improve on and then develop a plan to do just that. If the words are the result of a wounded individual wanting to just make you feel bad, try to understand what’s going on with them.
Ask them if you’ve doing something to upset them. I love that question because there are only two answers – yes or no. If yes, it gives you the opportunity to find out what you did that upset them and apologize. If the answer is no, it gives you the opportunity to reach out to that person and find out what’s going on. You may have the opportunity to offer kind words that may help them heal.
We are not born knowing everything. Along the way we have been taught to crawl, walk, talk, read, dance, sing and many other things. Why do we think the learning should stop when we enter the business world? Make it a goal to continuously improve your skills and talents and be open to hearing criticisms that can help you become a better you!
And, when you get really good at accepting criticism you didn’t ask for, you might consider actively asking for it – ask a few respected individuals for their thoughts on how you can improve.