One of my goals these last couple years has been to get better at embracing constructive criticism. No matter how much I tell myself not to worry about the feedback I receive, the moment I sense I am about to receive constructive criticism I can feel my blood start to boil as my defensive shields start to go up!
Last summer I asked our leadership team for feedback on a project I had been working on for weeks. I was surprised when two of our instructional coaches took me up on the opportunity to provide feedback. When we met, they provided several ideas for how the project could be improved. My initial thought was, "Do they realize how much time I have put into this project? If you think you can do better...than go ahead!" Of course I didn't say those words, because I have started to realize accurate criticism is the best feedback you can receive.
Although it took me about a week to recover from the candid feedback I received...I begrudgingly went back and re-created the document using the advice I had been given. I am so happy these two individuals had the courage to share their feedback with me, as their insight helped push the finished product from good to great. In the email below, I thank the two individuals who provided the criticism, and explain how having a high-quality project is much more important than a bruised ego.
One of my favorite passages discussing the importance of embracing criticism comes from the book Radical Candor by Kim Scott. The passage reads as follows: “When you receive criticism whatever you do, don’t start criticizing the criticism. Don’t start telling the other person they are wrong! Instead, repeat what the person said to make sure you’ve understood it, rather than defending yourself against the criticism you’ve just heard. Listen and clarify, but don’t try to debate. You’ll feel a strong urge to act defensively or at least explain yourself. This is natural, but it pretty much will kill any chance you’ll get criticism from that person again.”