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Gracefully Giving and Receiving Constructive Criticism

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By Grant Stenzel, MS Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

Whether you’re providing it or receiving it, constructive criticism can be challenging. On one hand, giving criticism has its own difficulties that come with approaching a person about certain behaviors. On the other, receiving constructive criticism and using it to your advantage can also be tough. Exploring your behaviors when facing criticism can help you to understand and alter your emotions to gracefully deal with whatever situation comes your way.

Utilizing Real Life Examples

When offering productive advice, it’s important to remember to not belittle someone for a behavior or action you think they should work on. Never call names or label the  behavior. I always tell people not to use “never” or “always” when describing someone’s behavior. It is much easier to use specific examples to kindly get your point across. Wouldn’t you rather someone approach you with productive questions so you could better work within yourself to make necessary changes? Sounds nice, right?

Don’t Put Emotions on the Back Burner

It’s beneficial to remember that humans are emotional as well as logical, and some people may be more sensitive than others when they are confronted. That’s why it’s imperative to be cautious when proceeding with criticisms. It can be easy to let anger cloud your vision when offering someone advice, especially when their behavior hasn’t matched up with what you expected. In this type of situation, I find that it’s best to take a deep breath, recollect your thoughts and express yourself as kindly and productively as you can.

When receiving criticism, keeping in touch with your emotions is important. Make yourself aware of how you feel in situations where you’re being critiqued and use this to your advantage. It isn’t wrong to be upset when getting feedback, but just be confident that the critique isn’t a judgment on your overall character, and shouldn’t be taken too personally.

Applying Criticism in Your Life

Dealing with criticism can also be a perfect time to practice patience and self reflection. Notice how you feel when someone criticizes you and work with those emotions—really focus on how you interpret the criticism and ask yourself, “How will I let this affect me in the future?” Not everything people point out about you needs to be taken personally, and that on its own is challenging. Remembering this can help you process the new suggestions. Be gracious for the advice given to you, and try to apply necessary changes to your daily life.

Overall, always remember to be kind in every social situation. I find that one of the most important things you can do to nourish a healthy relationship is forge a bond of clear communication and compassionate understanding. Our professional therapists at Stenzel Clinical can help you to find and nourish that compassion and understanding, at your own speed. We realize change takes time, and we’re prepared to take that journey alongside you.