What do you do when someone gives you critical feedback?
You know what I’m talking about. Someone gives you suggestions for improvement. Or, they point out something you’ve missed.
Basically, it feels like someone is telling you: You’re wrong.
How do you react? If you’re anything like me, you’ll literally feel yourself tense up. Your breathing may change. Your blood starts to boil.
There’s a reason for this: You get worked up when someone gives you criticism because you’re passionate. Your work, your opinions, your way of thinking—they’re like your best friends.
And nobody messes with your friends.
But here’s the catch: You need critical feedback. So do I. We all need criticism because none of us are perfect. We all have blind spots. And we can always improve.
We can compare criticism to a freshly mined diamond. That rock may be ugly to the naked eye…but once it’s cut and polished, its value becomes obvious.
Criticism is like that unpolished diamond: It’s ugly…at first. But most of the time, that ugliness is rooted in truth. And even if not, it can still make you better—by giving you a window into how others perceive you.
And, guess what? If one person sees you that way, you can be sure there are others who do, too.
That’s why you need to become a diamond cutter.
You need to take the raw, unpolished diamond of criticism and turn it into something beautiful—by transforming it into a learning experience.
But how can you benefit from critical feedback if your emotions are out of control?
Easy. All it takes is one simple sentence.
Whenever you receive negative feedback, and you’re tempted to say something you’re likely to regret, say this instead:
Thanks for sharing this; please give me a day or two to think it over.
A response like this is helpful because your first reaction is an emotional reaction. It springs forth from the amygdala, the little almond-shaped part of your brain that shifts into high gear when you feel attacked.
But once enough time has passed, the amygdala calms down…and you start thinking with the other, more reasoning parts of your brain.
Just giving yourself a day to process feedback helps you to see that feedback much differently. It allows you to take yourself out of the picture, so to speak, and see things from a more unbiased point of view.
And don’t forget about the first part of the sentence: “Thanks for sharing this.”
That little statement also goes a long way, because it expresses appreciation to the person who gave the feedback.
That usually does one or more of the following:
- It calms the other person down if they’re upset
- It allows you to receive criticism with grace
- It shows trolls they can’t get to you
In each case, it produces a more positive reaction in the other person.
So…the next time you get critical feedback, take a step back, and be a diamond cutter. You’ll transform that feedback into something valuable—and that’ll make you better at…
Just about everything.