The Art of Taking Criticism

Being able to stand (or sit) there and listen to your work be, um, crapped on get notes on your work is essential for anyone wanting to write TV. This article isn’t about writing, or TV, but, hell, it works. Highly recommended:

How to Take Constructive Criticism Like a Champ – by Nicole Lindsay

I’ve always envied people who can graciously accept constructive criticism. It seems I was not born with that trait, and throughout my career I’ve struggled with receiving feedback, even when it was entirely accurate. At the moment I hear the words of critique, my heartbeat quickens and my mind begins to race—first in search of an explanation for this assault on my person and then for a retort to rationalize whatever actions are in question.

And I’m not alone. Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, many of us react with defensiveness and anger or—even worse—attack the person giving us feedback. But the truth is, we need to get over it. We know there’s value in constructive criticism—how else would we identify weaknesses and areas of improvement? Being able to handle it calmly and professionally will only help us maintain relationships and be more successful in everything we do.

So how do you learn to back off the defensive? The next time you receive constructive criticism from your manager or a peer, use this six-step process to handle the encounter with tact and grace.

Stop Your First Reaction

At the first sign of criticism, before you do anything—stop. Really. Try not to react at all! You will have at least one second to stop your reaction. While one second seems insignificant in real life, it’s ample time for your brain to process a situation. And in that moment, you can halt a dismissive facial expression or reactive quip and remind yourself to stay calm.

Remember the Benefit of Getting Feedback

Now, you have a few seconds to quickly remind yourself of the benefits of receiving constructive criticism—namely, to improve your skills, work product, and relationships, and to help you meet the expectations that your manager and others have of you.

You should also try to curtail any reaction you’re having to the person who is delivering the feedback. It can be challenging to receive criticism from a co-worker, a peer, or someone that you don’t fully respect, but remember, accurate and constructive feedback comes even from flawed sources.

Listen for Understanding

Read it all

Of course, some people working in TV might point out that this article is about “constructive” criticism, which invalidates it in terms of anything anyone ever says to you in the TV world. But we’re not gonna go there. No sirree…