My friend, Kent, was standing around talking to another friend during a break at choir rehearsal. I thought it would be fun to surprise him by sneaking up behind him and putting a headlock on him. How was I to know he just dislocated his shoulder the day before playing racquetball? I found out quickly from the scream.
That was many years ago and I still cringe when I think about it. We all make mistakes. We all say and do things that we later regret. We all wish we could turn back the clock and do something differently.
It’s bad enough when we know we’ve done something wrong, but it is even harder to deal with when someone criticizes us. We’ve all been there: trying to “reconstruct” after “constructive” criticism.
An interesting internet study reveals that if we are able to take constructive criticism well, we will also have higher job satisfaction and higher job performance ratings. You can take the test for yourself here: See how defensive you are when criticized
How do we do that? How do we grow from criticism? How do we use criticism constructively?
With a little help from witty quotes from G. K. Chesterton, here are a few ways that might help.
- Separate the criticism from yourself- don’t make it personal.
Chesterton: It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.
- Consider that the critic is trying to help you, not harm you.
Chesterton: Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.
- If the criticism could be right, take it; if it is truly wrong, forget it.
Chesterton: A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
- Never defend yourself.
Chesterton: The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion.
- Look for the truth and grow from it.
Chesterton: I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.
Criticism is never fun, but it can be one of the best ways to grow and become a better person and employee. And if you learn to take it well, you just might be happier at work and be a better employee.