I recently read Peter Bregman’s book “4 Seconds – All the Time You Need to Stop Counter-Productive Habits and Get the Results You Want.” The section on accepting criticism was particularly helpful.

My personal tendency is to blow negative feedback out of proportion. It takes a while for me to stop being defensive and analyze what I’m being told so I can change and improve. While we can’t please everyone all the time, and some criticism might be exaggerated, I believe there is some truth in every comment. This is sometimes masked by the way in which feedback is delivered, which can often be harsh and hurtful.

Most people are non-confrontational. This means there are times when our behavior irritates or annoys others but they say nothing. Instead, they simply avoid us or choose not to do business with us. Looked at this way, criticism can be viewed as a gift.

Here are four ways we can be more open to feedback:

1. Set Aside Emotions
Receiving criticism hurts our feelings. Setting our emotions aside means we can be more open to truly listening to what is being said.

2. Focus on What is Being Said, Not How
If you have ever provided feedback, you know that it is not easy to relay a message without sounding critical. We must remind ourselves to focus on the message, not the delivery.

3. Listen
Our first instinct might be to justify our actions. But regardless of intent, perception is reality and the person providing feedback may have interpreted something we did in a way we did not intend. We need to listen and ask questions to fully understand their concerns.

4. Plan Action
When we have absorbed the criticism and are no longer emotional about it, we can think about ways to improve in the future. Are there specific steps we can take to reduce the chance this will happen again?

I don't know anybody who likes to be criticized. But I also believe that most professionals are looking for ways to continually improve themselves and their performance. The gift of feedback enables us to know where we should focus our efforts.

I welcome your feedback!

Author's Bio: 

Sharon F. Danzger founded Control Chaos in 2006. As a productivity consultant, she provides group training and individual coaching.

Ms. Danzger’s diverse background in financial services, non-profits, and small business enables her to offer a unique perspective on finding efficiency and balance. She tailors her approach to be industry specific and culturally focused based on her actual work and client experience.

Ms. Danzger spent the early part of her career in financial services working for The Prudential Insurance Company of America. She spent time in a variety of areas including commercial real estate, underwriting, corporate social responsibility, and group insurance.

Her work with non-profits has ranged from leadership development, governance, and training to financial analysis and oversight of an $18 MM budget.

Sharon holds a BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MS in Real Estate from New York University. She is also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU).

She has earned a Certificate of Study in Chronic Disorganization from the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). Ms. Danzger has recently completed Monash University's "Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance," University of Virginia Darden School's "Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management," University of Pennsylvania Wharton School's "Contagious," and University of Michigan's "Inspiring and Motivating Individuals."