Taking Criticism

Most of us dislike getting criticized. It's our natural reaction to feedback.

Great feedback is specific, and criticizes a behaviour instead of a person. It's delivered with kindness.

But most of the feedback we receive isn't like that.

And we react poorly. We interrupt and dispute claims. We disagree. We seek to be right, not to listen.

You can feel when this happens. Someone gets criticized at work and disputes it. You cringe. That’s what taking feedback poorly looks like.

Playing hockey growing up, it was normal—from some coaches—to get yelled at during practice. Not paying attention to details, making a mistake, not working hard enough.

Those that disputed it got yelled at more. Those that worked it off—those who dug in and improved—didn’t get bothered as much.

It sounds like a tough environment, but when you repeatedly get harsh feedback, you learn to shake it off.

Disputing it doesn’t help, so instead you learn to absorb what you think is useful, and ignore the rest. And you don’t get bothered.

It’s a skill that I didn’t think about much until professional life.

Trying to build businesses and working in startups, mistakes are inevitable. Everyone has an opinion, and often you want to hear it.

But opinions conflict and advice often points you in opposite directions.

It is invaluable to be able to take criticism, listen, think, and then form a course of action.

When you do this well, you win over those that are giving the advice (or criticism).

And that is often more valuable than the criticism itself.