Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions. Simply put, it’s your ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you. With that understanding, consider how you might respond to even the most constructive criticism. No one likes to have their faults exposed, but knowing others perspective can give us useful information.
For many constructive criticism triggers some of these familiar responses:
- Defend ourselves
- Make excuses
- Minimize the problem
- Attempt to rationalize
- Sidestep the issue
- Shift the blame
The reason we respond in such ways is due to our egos desire to feel safe and unthreatened, but consider what if the criticism contained truly useful information? We need negative feedback if we’re going to grow. Since most criticism is based on objective reality, it helps fill those knowledge gaps so we can improve. Even when the feedback is off base, it remains valuable–because it helps you understand the perspective of others.
Emotional Intelligence is a learned response. As a general rule children have to learn to control their emotions and think beyond their immediate wants. So, no matter how paralyzed you may feel with receiving criticism you CAN learn control over your emotions. The benefits include more confidence, a calmer demeanor and better long term planning skills.
Here are some useful tips that will help you improve your Emotional Intelligence.
Tip #1 – Evaluate How You Currently Respond To Criticism
Start where you are at. Look back on your history of reacting to criticism. Do you defend yourself? Do you feel like you have to explain or justify your position? Do you get/feel angry?
Tip #2 – When hearing criticism stay silent and listen. Get used to it.
If you feel like reacting defensively DON’T. Practice non-defensive responses like “I hadn’t thought of that”, “That’s worth taking a look at”, “I appreciate your insights”. With practice you’ll find there is a threshold where the criticism doesn’t bother you. Go even further and the criticism feels important.
Tip #3 – Remind yourself criticism is not the same thing as a personal attack.
Emotional Intelligence means having a clear separation between what you are doing and who you are. Being told your project needs improvement is not that same as being told YOU are bad or wrong. Also, remember that sometimes we get stuck in patterns not because they are the best way of doing something, but because it’s how we’ve always done it. Put all criticism in the perspective of long term results by asking “If I used this information what would the long term benefits be?“
Tip #4 – Invite criticism. Ask how something could be improved.
Create a mindset the invites other’s perspectives. Take some time to read any bad reviews of your products and services. Consider what the reviewer experienced to make those comments and work to prevent that from happening in the future.