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Constructive Criticism

As I progressed through my career I never very good at accepting negative feedback. I really had a bad attitude towards it, feeling that there was never enough attention given to the "good stuff" and too much attention on weaknesses.

As I have gotten older (I will shy away from the word mature in case anyone reading this knows me) I have learned the value of feedback. Of course I have only been working for more than 30 years ... so I guess that makes me a slow learner! (see that's me giving myself feedback ... or maybe its just self-deprecation).

We always see ourselves a little differently than those around us, and understanding what "they" think is important. It is input that we can use to modify our behavior, tweak our operating style or give ourselves a major make-over depending on (a) the feedback and (b) what we want to do with it.

IF, as I used to do, we dismiss the feedback as irrelevant, off the mark or just plain wrong then we miss the opportunity to look at the feedback dispassionately and understand how we can use it.

Some people are excellent at listening, internalizing and using feedback for their own gain, without letting it upset them. I think my biggest issue was that I took it personally as an insult, when really it was my various managers just telling it as they saw it.

When I first contemplated a sales career I spent a couple of years in the Toastmaster organization which I found to be very beneficial. There was the obvious and primary goal of Toastmasters to help me be a better public speaker, excellent for giving sales presentations. In addition the Toastmaster organization run very "tight" meetings, which is another great business skill to learn and practice. Perhaps one of the lesser known benefits of Toastmasters was the constant giving and receiving of feedback every time you gave talk, whether prepared or impromptu. Maybe this is where I began to understand that feedback is actually a tool for us to use and not some kind of personal attack.

So ... the lesson it took me so many years to learn can be mastered easily by those willing to accept criticism for what it is, just professional feedback designed to help you to be better. Not all that tough to understand now ... so why did it take me so many years to get there? DOH!