In part 2 of our Brené Brown Netflix binge, we’re discussing the willingness to “choose courage over comfort” and to be vulnerable to your own faults so that you can improve your life. Seeking out criticism for the sake of professional growth can be intimidating, but there are some steps you can take to seek and use constructive criticism to have a better and more fulfilling career.
Consider the Source
As Brené Brown says “You can’t take criticism from people who are not being brave with their lives.” Seek feedback from people whose opinions you respect and whose work and career choices you admire. This is not about pandering to your boss or other superiors. It is about openly searching for ways to improve your work performance. This might be a good opportunity to start a dialogue with your supervisor, especially if you already have a good working rapport. If you don’t have an open dialogue, seek out someone you trust to be honest with you, whether it be a teammate or other co-worker who you can see is happy and succeeding.
Before engaging a supervisor, co-worker, or teammate to give you job performance feedback, prepare some inviting questions. Craft questions that are specific. Do you struggle with time management? Ask how you could be more efficient. Do you have trouble communicating an idea with clients? Ask for ways to communicate more effectively. By being specific, you let the other person know that you are aware that you have room for improvement.
Respond. Don’t Defend.
Remember that asking for this kind of honest criticism is an act of vulnerability for both people involved. Not only is it hard to hear potentially negative things about yourself, it can be hard for the other person to be open for fear of offending you. Go into the conversation willing to listen without trying to defend yourself. Getting defensive will either shut the other person down, or escalate the exchange from a conversation to an argument.
Clarity is Key
If you do find that you don’t agree with a criticism, the first step is to remain calm. This is a great time to use Brené Brown’s “The story I’m telling myself” method of communication. Instead of defending your position or completely discounting the point, make sure you understand the point fully. Calmly discuss your interpretation of the critique.
Follow Through. Follow Up.
It’s not enough to receive constructive criticism. You have to do something with it. With a clear understanding of how you want to improve, set goals with benchmarks to check your progress. Be consistent in your efforts, and, when you feel like you’ve made headway, check in to see how your progress is perceived.
Criticism is scary and seeking it out can be even scarier, but when you allow yourself to be open and vulnerable to your faults you also open yourself up to the possibility of greater success.