• Maintain your composure.
Dealing with criticism can be stressful. Sometimes the complaint is off base or is the result of a simple misunderstanding. Take a breath; stay calm. Don’t offer excuses or become defensive. Avoid attributing motives to the other person. Communicate as the professional you are, demonstrating good manners and respect.
• Use your listening skills.
Hear the other person out. Consider what is actually being said; avoid reading into the message what is not there. The person giving the criticism may not be skilled in communication or be sensitive to your circumstances. Understanding that, put personal feelings aside and focus on the true gist of the complaint.
• Seek to understand.
Regard criticisms as directed toward your actions, not toward you. Be mature enough to understand people see things differently. Another person can be right without you being wrong.
Some criticisms are worth a lot; some are not. Consider the source and the circumstances as you evaluate what comes your way, but be receptive to the possibility the criticism is valid and constructive. Give the benefit of the doubt. Being professional is all about learning.
• Be gracious.
The person offering criticism is dissatisfied and wants you to make a change. He may expect you to not take this well. Instead, exercise your communication skills by thanking him for bringing the matter to your attention. Remain approachable. Ask any questions you have; agree on what will be done and when. Leave him with an assurance you will follow through.
• Manage the “afterwards.”
We learn from every criticism. Don’t waste your experience; find the good and use it. Did you gain new information? find new insight? grow stronger in your interpersonal skills? Maybe the lesson learned was how not to offer criticism. Invaluable!
Regardless how your encounter went, show your professionalism by keeping the conversation confidential. Strive to perform with excellence. Maintain a cordial relationship with the critic.
What happens after the criticism is even more important than what happens during.