Criticism is tough to take, especially when it is unexpected. Unforeseen negative feedback can be unsettling, but also incredibly valuable. Next time you are blindsided by what someone has to say about your behavior, take a deep breath and try doing these three things:
- Move beyond your feelings. You’re likely to feel hurt and angry. Notice those feelings and then put them aside so they don’t negatively influence your reaction.
- Look beyond the delivery. Giving feedback is really hard and very few people are skilled at it. Don’t dismiss the feedback just because it wasn’t delivered well.
- Collect the data. Don’t respond right away. You’ll likely regret how defensive and angry you sound. Instead, listen. Take in the criticism. Once you’ve had time and space, you can decide how to react and whether to change.
Adapted from “How to Handle Surprise Criticism” by Peter Bregman.