How to handle your critics constructively

How should you react to criticism of yourself or your organisation? Ignoring the criticism may be one way - but that approach often solves nothing. If you can build a co-operative, supportive environment in which criticism can be given and received with little pain, however, you'll be perceived as an effective communicator and a highly effective manager. One of the hallmarks of success is being able to react to criticism constructively - and here are a few ideas that may help...

1. Acknowledge that you will be criticised.

Recognise that you, as a leader, will have faults. Someone will always be out to put you on the defensive - it's a hazard of your position. Awareness of this will make criticism easier to accept. Remember the saying: 'They who shrink from criticism cannot be showered safely with praise.'

2. Face your criticism as soon as possible.

Criticism is often the result of faulty communication. Whether you believe the criticism is fair or unfair, it's important if possible to make personal contact with your critic. Open communication will prevent the build-up of resentment and help defuse a potentially damaging situation.

3. Listen to the criticism with an open mind.

Let your critic criticise openly. Resist the temptation to interrupt with defensive counter-arguments. Don't let your emotions block your listening. Weigh the words as you hear them. Be courteous. Angry critics in particular need to be listened to before they will be prepared to hear your point of view.

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