career

The two minute hack for handling criticism that could make a major difference in your career.

Receiving “constructive feedback” is always unpleasant, unless you’re some kind of performance robot. But doing it right will not only win you the respect of your colleagues, it can diffuse difficult situations, move projects forward, strengthen relationships, set an example for others around you, and most certainly—and importantly—teach you something.

Simply put, working out the best way to handle criticism can give you the tools to run the world.

To start you off, here’s advice from no less of a world-runner (this week’s inauguration here being tastefully ignored) than Hillary Clinton.

“It’s important to take criticism seriously—not personally.”

She said this back in 2014 at the Women in the World summit, but it’s such timeless advice that you could probably tattoo it down your arm. (Word to the wise: Don’t. That’s a stupid tattoo.) And yet, such a powerful statement can do with a bit of breaking down. So let’s get to it.

Step 1: Listen to the criticism.

(This is the worst part; it gets better, I promise.)

hillary clinton breathing exercise

Coming from the pro.

Step 2: Stop (collaborate) and listen.

Yes, there's a Vanilla Ice reference to keep you going. But seriously, hit pause on your first reaction, since it's likely to be an excuse, a defense—or worse, an attack. Don't assume you know what the other person is telling you. They obviously don't think you do or they wouldn't have bothered to tell you.

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Take in what they're saying. (The collaboration happens naturally somewhere between stop and listen, if you're wondering.)

Listen: What happened to Hillary Clinton? (Post continues after audio.)

Step 3: Say thank you.

According to every expert on this, thanking the person criticising you is important. It acknowledges their good intentions as well as their effort in helping you make your work better. And yes, that's generally what criticism is.

Note: It doesn't mean you have to agree with what they're saying.

Step 4: Dig deeper.

Make sure you're clear on what they mean. Career development expert Nicole Lindsay recommends asking for examples, workshopping solutions and making sure you know whether the feedback is specific or general. Then follow up. Check back on whether you received the message clearly and that you've been applying it where relevant.

At this point, congrats: You've turned a criticism into a conversation—about your work, and not about you. Hillary would be proud.

So would Vanilla Ice.

The award-winning podcast Mamamia Out Loud is doing their first live show. There will be laughs, disagreements and you can meet the hosts afterwards! We’re also donating $5 of every ticket price to Share The Dignity so grab your friends and come along to share the love and laughs, get your tickets here.

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