A couple looking at a laptop with the words " feedback tip ".

How You Can Welcome Constructive Criticism

So, I have a burning question for you: Are you open to embracing constructive feedback?

I will start by saying that in the past, I would avoid any feedback like the plague. My already fragile self-esteem couldn’t bear yet another hit, so I avoided anything that made me feel less than stellar. However, this behavior only hurt me in the long term. It hurt me in terms of missed business and personal opportunities.

As a life coach for entrepreneurs, I know that constructive criticism is essential to help you grow and scale your business. And I understand that this may be difficult for others for various reasons. 

Not everyone who speaks to you has experience or credentials, and even if they do, their feedback may not be helpful due to your unique challenges. 

So, what can we do? 

We cannot ignore everyone. Yet we need discernment to filter out the good from the bad advice. 

In this article, we will discuss how you can receive constructive criticism without feeling critical, defensive, or upset in the process.

First, I want to kickstart by sharing an experience about some helpful yet critical comments about my podcast to show that I am no different from you.

I like you Denise, but I didn’t like….

Earlier this year, I received a mind-blowing review of my podcast from a potential guest. This individual provided valuable constructive criticism regarding certain aspects of my podcast via email.

The message included:

  • his thoughts on my approach to discussing emotions 
  • pointing out an audio glitch in one of my episodes
  • differences in our spiritual beliefs
All of his insights were meticulously detailed in an email.
What’s remarkable is that despite his critique, he expressed interest in having a meaningful conversation via my show. (By the way, he was an exceptional guest!)
In the past, I would have reacted defensively, possibly even responding with anger.
I would have attempted to justify my actions and mistakes.
But you know what I did this time?
I responded with gratitude, acknowledging his candid comments and recognizing the common ground between our diverse healing practices.
This is the latest version of myself, like Denise 3.0 (patent pending).

It has taken considerable internal growth for me to reach a place where I understand the following:

  1. Constructive criticism, regardless of its nature, is a valuable gift. He could have chosen to ignore my flaws, leaving me blissfully unaware.
  2. I won’t evolve as a practitioner, healer, and podcaster if I remain isolated. Improvement requires external perspectives.
  3. Criticisms need not be personal attacks on my imperfections as a human being.

Emotional growth requires vulnerability  

I am constantly evolving, and so are you on your unique path. Through this path, and many experiences, I have come to realize that the depth of our emotional growth depends on our ability to genuinely and vulnerably connect with others.
 In the next section, we will talk about how to accept honest, and valuable feedback from others.

Why does constructive criticism scare folk so much?

In my previous article about feedback, I emphasized the need for your discernment abilities to determine whether the feedback was worthwhile. Please read it.

This article’s attention shifts to feelings of fear, insecurity, and other negative emotions that prevent us from taking useful input from people. Let’s start with the reason why accepting criticism is challenging.

Lions, tigers, bears, oh my!!

We, Homo sapiens, have been wandering the planet for the past 300,000 years. We are not too far away biochemically from our cousin, Lucy

During this time, animals like the cave bear, interglacial rhinoceros, heavy-bodied Asian antelope, Eurasian hippopotamus, and Woolly rhinoceros coexisted.

Below is an image of a Eurasian hippopotamus that weighed 3,500–4,200 kilograms (7,700–9,300 lb) and had an average height of 165-175 cm. 

Can you imagine navigating the world as a hunter/gatherer armed only with a club to shield yourself from huge animals like this?

Our helpful, yet limiting friend 

It was of utmost importance to have the necessary equipment in order to respond adequately and efficiently to incoming threats such as wild animals.

As a result, our ancestors trusted in the resourcefulness of the amygdala, located in the brain, which quickly sprang into action to ensure that they were constantly aware of any potential danger that could arise. This helped them survive in dangerous times. It was, and still is, our helpful friend.

However, our defense system hasn’t evolved much since then. 

Despite our bigger brains, we are still primed to respond by fleeing or fighting back, or even trying to become invisible (freezing).

Now you have the power to choose how you respond to threats, you can evolve beyond your natural, yet primate-like instincts. The following steps will share you to do it.

Work through your fears and anxieties like a boss

Step one: Face Your Inner Critic

Even if the criticism is helpful, we do not like it for various reasons. It threatens our identity, violating our sense of safety and security. 

Going back to my experience with a podcast guest, I did not want to receive comments. I already felt insecure about myself and how I was growing my podcast. 

However, I reminded myself that his advice was not a direct assault on my identity as a podcaster and healing practitioner. 

How do you handle criticism? Are you objective and receptive to feedback? 

Being objective may be difficult if you were heavily criticized as a child. All you can do is time-travel back to the place where you felt upset, afraid, and alone. 

The only message you remember was, “You are not worthy, and here’s why”. So when people provide you feedback, all you can do is remember those bitter, pain-filled experiences. Now is your time to confront those experiences head on and remind yourself of the truth.

Step Two: Embrace your feelings and reality

Everybody plays the fool, sometime
(No exception) no exception to the rule
It may be factual, may be cruel, sometime
But everybody plays the fool

Lyrics from “Everybody Plays the Fool” by the band The Main Ingredient.

Fighting our feelings

Let’s be real about something: while we need our feelings to connect with our experiences, they can still suck!

And if we were raised in a pain-filled family, we may have tried to avoid those feelings like the plague.

Or maybe we only stuck to tried and true emotions like disgust, frustration, or anger? That limited range of emotions could have caused us health problems such as insomnia, migraines, or inflammatory-related issues.

Alternative facts

Perhaps you were in touch with all of your feelings but only stuck to narratives where you could comfortably live in blissful ignorance. Maybe you bought into the idea of “alternate facts.” 

You had your own version that kept you blissfully ignorant of current reality. However, if you want to grow emotionally and do things differently in the next experience, you must accept both our feelings and reality at the same time.

How to embrace your feelings and reality 

When you experience something scary or difficult, it’s important to acknowledge and accept your feelings while also recognizing the facts.

Take Rachel, for instance. She pitches to clients frequently and experiences anxiety during those meetings, even with new clients. Her hands become sweaty, and her heart races.

Despite having years of experience as a competent copywriter, Rachel still feels like a novice. She can’t afford to shut down her agency, as her team members and family rely on her financially.

In moments of fear, Rachel does the following:

  • Embraces her feelings
  • Reminds herself that current or future clients are plentiful and that there’s a demand for her services
  • Accepts any criticism as an opportunity to grow and improve, both professionally and personally

By doing so, Rachel learns and strengthens both her technical and soft skills, making her a better copywriter each step of the way.

A couple looking at a laptop with the words " feedback tip ".

Final thoughts

When faced with constructive criticism, do you choose to flee or embrace the opportunity for growth? Remember, your feelings and facts act as a team. They are both helpful to assist you in growing emotionally and professionally.

Every time you hear advice or criticism, know that it is meant to help you grow professionally and personally. Embrace it as the gift that it truly is.  

If you need assistance using your good to help, not hurt you, consider working with me. During our time together, we will examine your fears, where they come from, and how you can prevent your insecurities from limiting you in all areas of your life.

Dig deeper by clicking here to listen to this episode or pressing the play button below.