Do you want to be a leader? Then it would be best if you learned to take constructive criticism along the way.

All the greats use the advice they were given to help them accomplish their goals. Constructive criticism is extremely helpful, especially when you listen to the wise guidance of those who have been there.

Remember back to your teenage years. Do you recall feeling that your mom and dad thought they knew everything about your life? You probably got very aggravated when they tried to instruct or direct you.

Now that you have grown, you see that their sage advice was from love and not an effort to control you. They warned and lectured you because they didn’t want you to make the same mistakes as they did. Some children will sit and listen to their parents and comprehend what they’re saying, but others didn’t want to listen and would rebel.

Some teenagers seem to want to do things the hard way, and it’s just as accurate for adults. When you’re given advice, you have the choice of what to do with it. You can ignore it and continue to do things your way, you can become bitter and think the person is trying to control you or listen.

Understanding the Benefits of Constructive Criticism

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To criticize someone means to put them down in some capacity. However, to use constructive criticism means that you’re making suggestions for improvement. If you want to be an effective leader, you must learn to listen to the people underneath and above you.

An illustration of constructive criticism

Assume Joe has a company, and he is having morale issues. He’s had several employees quit, and there is tension in the workplace. One of the employees approaches him and wants to talk candidly about what can be done to change things.

Joe engages with the employee and hears what he has to say. The employee suggests that some of the equipment they use is so outdated that they lose productivity because they constantly fix and wait on repairs. The employee told him that someone will get hurt on top of losing more good help if things don’t get fixed.

While Joe listened to the staff member, he felt offended that he suggested the equipment was subpar. Rather than taking any of his considerations into play, he excused him and became incensed at his suggestions. Joe knows the equipment is old, but he is too stubborn to spend any money to fix it.

The following week, five more employees quit, and one woman got hurt on one of the machines. Joe refused to take the advice from a worker who dealt with these issues every day. If he had listened, it could have helped him improve his company, and in the end, it cost him way more than some updated machines.

To be an effective leader, you must listen to those under you and those who have trailblazed the way before you. Had Joe listened to his employee, he might have saved himself a lot of grief, but he didn’t want anyone telling him how to run his company.

How many times have you been in Joe’s position and taken the same type of stance? Appropriately done, constructive criticism can make your life better, not worse.

Habits to Ensure You Grow from Constructive Criticism

Every decision you make has an action or a reaction. If someone critiques your parenting skills, how you do your job, or your marriage, you might be inclined to lash out. It’s important to use these experiences as stepping stones towards a better you, and here are some habits that can help you grow.

Don’t be so quick only to hear negative things but what they’re really trying to tell you.

1. Pause and Ponder but Don’t Overreact

The first thing most folks want to do when they feel someone is criticizing them is to lash out. If the person is doing this in love and not trying to put you down, don’t speak the first thing that pops into your mind.

Instead, you need to stop and really listen to what they’re saying. Are they speaking truths to you that you already know? If they tell you that you need to be more patient with your children and stop yelling, the chances are that you already know that you have this issue. Sometimes, people don’t like to be told stuff they already know, and you react by becoming defensive.

It will be difficult, but you need to make sure that you don’t spout back some harsh comments. Think about what they’re trying to tell you and how you can implement their suggestions into your life.

2. Consider the Benefits of Constructive Criticism

When a new mother brings home a baby from the hospital, both grandmas are usually there. Since they’ve already raised their children, they often have much advice to give. Now, they’re not trying to tell you how to raise your kid, but they want to provide you with tips to make it easier.

Since they’ve already been through it, they know way more than you at this point. Please don’t get mad at them, but you should consider the benefits of the information they’re giving you. They’re trying to help you and make your life easier, and much of their advice can be beneficial.

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3. Listen and Engage

While it might be easy to tune people out, why not try listening to what they have to say? Listen with the intent that you might benefit from their advice. Next, engage with them.

If your mother-in-law tells you that you should never prop a bottle up to feed a baby, ask her why she thinks this needs to be done. There is some truth behind her theory as it allows the baby to take in more air. She’s not trying to be manipulative or take control of the situation; she honestly is trying to help.

4. Thank Them

Even if you don’t like the advice that they give you, always thank them for it. In 99 percent of cases, their mind and heart were in the right place. Sure, it’s not always easy to hear that you’re doing something wrong.

However, you can’t be unapproachable about everything in life, or you will have to learn things the hard way. Remember when your parents told you not to touch the stove?

You weren’t happy until you felt the stove, and you probably got burnt. If you had only listened, you could have saved yourself the heartache.

5. Process the Constructive Criticism and Move On

There are some good tidbits of information that can be given through constructive criticism. Once you’ve asked any questions and thanked them for sharing with you, then it’s time to process it. Maybe you learned something that you want to put to good use in your life, or perhaps it’s information you will file in the back of your mind.

Process all the data that you’ve been given, and then move on. Don’t harbor any bad feelings towards this person. Remember that they were only trying to help you. Even if it didn’t come across as helpful and was more hurtful, you still need to let it go.

Ways to Identify If the Criticism Isn’t Constructive

While, in theory, it’s nice to think that everyone with advice is doing it from love and concern, it’s not always the case. There are sometimes where people want to be mean or put you down. The narcissist may even try to manipulate you so that they can look better. Here are some signs that you’re just being criticized.

  • They speak to you harshly.
  • They’re rude
  • They call names or use phrases like dumb, stupid, ignorant
  • Their efforts are to put you down, not help you
  • This person doesn’t have a good relationship with you
  • The advice isn’t helpful but more hurtful
  • They try to demean you in front of others

If you notice any of these things in their critique, then you don’t have to follow this list to help you grow. It’s okay to put the bully in their place. If they don’t want to help you but are trying to tear you down, then it’s perfectly okay for you to stand up for yourself.

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Final Thoughts on Constructive Criticism

It’s hard to take criticism about you or your life, even if it’s on the constructive side. Still, you can always ignore what people tell you. If you become so set in your ways that there is no room for growth or change, then you’re stagnating.

Life is about rolling with the punches and being flexible. How can you be a great mom or dad if you don’t listen to how other parents did things? How can you be a great boss if you don’t want to listen to those that matter most, the people who work for you?

Don’t be so quick to bush off constructive criticism, as it may be the one thing that takes you higher up the corporate ladder or makes you a better human being.