Have you ever stopped yourself from doing or saying something in a meeting or group of friends for fear of criticism? Does your stomach drop and your heart palpitate at the mention of a job review

Do you recognize when you are giving feedback or receiving criticism? Feedback is always centred on a person’s actions. Criticism is all about a person’s character.

You alone can allow yourself to be criticized by keeping secrets. The more secrets you have the more vulnerable you become to criticism. The secrets are all the things you think are not good enough about yourself. What are some of the words that have become secrets? When you hear these words do you cringe inside?

What you forget is that like night and day, one characteristic cannot exist without the opposite. On a piece of paper, start two columns. Head the left one Night and the right one Day. Now in the column Night write a list of the words you fear hearing about yourself. Now in the Day column make a list of the words you like to hear about yourself. In all cases, Night cannot exist without Day. To rid yourself of fear it is necessary to shine a light on and accept all your Night and Day characteristics. Not easy work but do-able.

Are you being judged or criticized? Be wary when you hear these words: you, you’d better, shame, what I do is, hopeless, what’s wrong with you is, always, why, should, but, never, name calling, sarcasm, ridiculing. Physical clues are lack of eye contact and, turning away.

There are many ways to respond to criticism such as:
agree with it
acknowledge the possibility the other person is right
request more information about what the person mean
acknowledge that you heard it and that you disagree
express what you are feeling having heard the feedback
hear the feedback and deal with the issue it raises later

Response is up to you, respond or don’t, do it now, do it later, or never. Take your time, you are not required to give a "deer in the headlights" panic response. Keep yourself from falling into the trap of replies beginning with: yabbut, you’re wrong, or, I’m not like that.

A special note for the "why" word. If you listen carefully you’ll notice that questions beginning with "why" often require a defense from you. For example: Why did you do it that way? Trapped! You scramble in your mind for quick defense and blurt it out. Relax! Here’s a quick answer to the why question "Why did you do it that way?" The answer is "it seemed like the best thing to do at the time. When you’ve done the Night and Day exercise and are comfortable with yourself, you may have the option of saying, "I made a mistake".

How do you recognize or give non-threatening feedback:
. describe what you see, imagine or feel
. give feedback on behaviour rather than the person
. describe the behaviour in detail rather than making a judgement
. speak in terms of more or less rather than either/or
. focus on behaviour related to specific issues rather than behaviour in the abstract
. give feedback for the value to the receiver rather than on the release it provides for you
. be aware of the amount of information the receiver can use rather than on the amount you have and which you might like to give
. choose an appropriate time and place
. stick to what is said and done rather than why it is so
. do not play analyst

How do you receive feedback and what are the appropriate responses:
. ask for it
. accept it
. do not make excuses
. acknowledge its value and express appreciation for it
. don’t just sit there with a blank stare
. ask questions, don’t just say thank you and let it drop
. view it as a continuing exploration
. indicate what you intend to do with the feedback
. avoid becoming defensive, getting angry, seeking revenge
. avoid ignoring what is said or the person saying it
. don’t look for motives or hidden meanings
. seek clarification
. think about it and try to build on it

Doesn’t this sound easy? Well, it isn’t. This way of handling feedback or criticism is possible ... it takes practice, failure, and more practice. Don’t give up!

Author's Bio: 

Michaela David

Principal

Course of Action

Toronto ON Canada

email: survivor.specialist@sympatico.ca

Michaela is a Personal Life Coach, Clinical Psychotherapist, and
Writer, and Keynote Speaker with twenty-five years of experience in workshop
design & delivery. She has a busy private practice and writes a monthly
column entitled Surviving Work, dealing with day-to-day workplace
issues. Ms. David is a cancer survivor and brings the wisdom gained from
this experience to all aspects of her work in the form of humour.
presence, and openness.