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Taking the Heat: How Criticism and Feedback Can Fuel Your Career

Updated: Feb 12

Learn how to handle criticism and feedback - at work - to grow. The benefit of criticism and feedback are enormous if you know how to deal with them. Therefore ignore the style of feedback and only listen to the intention of what is said.

Entrepreneurs, executives, or managers who can repeatedly behave as dictators will sooner or later be confronted with the fact that they will find it increasingly difficult to empathize with a different person. Or with different ideas than they have.

They also create fear and often yes nodding people around them who have given up giving feedback. While criticism and feedback can accelerate growth in functioning and being, this is often a missed opportunity for the person and the company.

Criticism and feedback are the accelerators of growth

To grow, we need to be able to handle criticism and feedback. As children, we learn a lot and very quickly from our mistakes. To learn to walk, you have to fall and often so. The more often you fall, the sooner you know how to go step by step to the next phase. Learning to run.

And if you flip that cup of lemonade, you won't have any lemonade anymore, so we learn to handle the cup. Without feedback, we don't learn as fast as we could. If we - through our behavior - completely diminish the amount of feedback we receive, there is a danger that we will stop learning.

We can get into imaginary isolation where we start to believe that we already know everything better than anyone else and ignore all the signals from our surroundings.

If we don't grow through criticism or feedback, we standstill

Without feedback or criticism, it's hard to grow, and if we don't grow, we will continue to a standstill. Every entrepreneur, board member, and manager understands that in a world with so much technological progress that goes fast, learning is the most important asset of a company. If you continue to do what you did five years ago, your company is ready for the abyss.

We need to keep up with the time we live in.

We see it happening all around us more often than ever before. Disruptive enterprises that learn faster than the established order are emerging like mushrooms.

Uber, Tesla, Whatsapp, Amazon, and so on. The founders, executives, and managers have the gift of learning to see trends, master the matter, and turn it into action. They listen to the feedback from the market and the feedback from their environment.

It is a gift to give feedback

Feedback are gifts that you give someone to learn, and it is your job to hand out those gifts as much and as often as possible. Remember that the entrepreneurs, executives, and managers who can act as dictators, need your feedback the most.

We tend to dislike people who don't listen to criticism or feedback, and that's why we sometimes think they don't deserve our feedback. From a social point of view, you could argue that this is a selfish point of view. After all, if someone has forgotten to embrace feedback, will you stop giving them feedback? While people who do get enough feedback will get a little bit more from you.

Criticism and feedback can be confrontational for the giver

Some people avoid any confrontation. If they make an effort to give feedback, they prefer to shout from a distance what's on their heart and quickly walk on. That will relieve them, and they will assign responsibility for their feedback to the receiver.

It is usually the easiest, but least effective way. It's like throwing a present through the open door and hoping it won't break during the fall. Giving feedback is, therefore, partly a matter of daring to go into confrontation and saying much more than just what you think and feel.

Giving and connecting during criticism and feedback

Giving criticism or feedback in a confrontational way is not the same as having a courageous conversation. In a courageous conversation, the art is to make a connection, while in a confrontation, there is a one-sided attack that usually leads to - temporary - termination of contact.

Giving connective feedback is making contact and sharing insights within the dialogue based on both sides of the argument. Even though it seems that this always requires two people, in practice, it is usually enough if the person giving the feedback makes a connection.

What do you do if someone does not want feedback or a connection?

It can happen that someone - like a dictator - doesn't want any feedback at all. Certainly not from you. If the person does not accept a connection from your side, it can be challenging to start a brave conversation.

In that case, ask yourself what you would do if you wanted to give this person a gift that would be rejected in advance. Won't you buy any presents anymore, or are you trying to find a way to address the next gift?

Self-interest feedback is usually counterproductive

Where things can go wrong is that we often want to give feedback in our own interests. It's not about the learning curve of the other person. It's about the other person having to learn something so that you will be better off or have less trouble with something. Complaining less often from the other person causes you less stress.

Constructive feedback instead of criticism from the other person gives you more motivation. It is a type of feedback loop. The feedback you provide in such cases is actually about yourself. Real feedback in a brave conversation is about selfless feedback to make the other person learn more or faster.

Feedback does not always have to be made positive

If a person is more interested in the style of how the feedback is delivered than in the content, it says more about the communication and listening skills of the recipient than about the person giving the feedback.

Feedback does not always have to be constructive and positive. Learning to fall as a child sometimes hurts, and as a recipient of the feedback, to grow, we have to learn to live with that. The only thing you need to have a courageous conversation in which you give feedback is a connection and the ability to say sorry when you are wrong. If there is a connection, then being brave becomes a state of vulnerability. Precisely what is needed to provide and receive feedback.

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