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Monday, June 11, 2007

How to Handle Criticism

Lifehack had me thinking about handling criticism. As a one-person business with no manager to meet with me to discuss performance goals and progress, I must rely on my clients for feedback. They’re essentially my managers.

On occasion, I e-mail a client requesting feedback. I explain that I want to serve him or her better in future assignments and the only way I can do that is ask for feedback. Even though I asked for feedback, I gulp when I see an e-mail from that person. Something about human nature forces us to feel jittery about feedback though we tell ourselves that we’re always growing and improving. Feedback in e-mail — which takes away some of that personal touch — doesn’t soften the message.

AbsoluteWrite’s article lists one thing that works for me: “Not everyone will like your writing/work.” This is no different than putting out one food dish for everyone to try. How likely will everyone like the dish? We have our likes and dislikes, so there will always be someone out there who doesn’t like the work we do simply because they have a distaste for it.

Example. I attended a fantastic week-long management class where at the end of the class, we sent evaluation forms to people we’ve worked with. Nine out of the ten responses came with positive feedback. That one negative had opposite scores and comments. Despite nine good ones, that one hurt. I hadn’t yet learned that not everyone will like my work. The negative feedback turned into a learning experience as I worked on the areas needing improvement.

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