Everyone who has been employed has had to deal with negative feedback or rejection. Because we tend to merge our identities with our career, it can be a personal blow to our self-esteem when we are criticized at work. Whether it’s a job rejection, poor performance appraisal, or office gossip, it doesn’t usually bring out our best side.
I have to admit, I’ve never been a particularly organized person. I’ve been to so many classes that I could teach one. These issues have followed me from school to work – never going unnoticed. At one point, the work FEEDBACK would make me break out in a cold sweat.
Luckily, I was given the opportunity to prove myself. With an amazing assistant to keep me on track, I was able to excel. However, if I had let the negative feedback get to me, I wouldn’t have been given an opportunity to shine. So what do you do when confronted with criticism you don’t really want to hear? Follow the tips below to come out with your pride and your career intact.
1. Stop and listen. Our first instinct in this situation is to go on the defensive. Before you start churning out excuses, take a deep breath and objectively listen to the criticism being offered. Is there any truth to what is being said?
2. Keep things professional. Don’t even think about retaliating. Our second instinct is to list every fault of the person responsible for inflicting this agony – usually to anyone who will listen. “As if she’s perfect!” It’s just an instinct, not the right course of action and it makes you look petty and immature.
3. Try not to take it personally. Yes, it stings but it doesn’t reflect your value as a person. Keep it in perspective - it's work and constructive criticism comes with the territory.
4. Learn from your mistakes. If you didn’t get the promotion you applied for, ask yourself if you were thoroughly prepared. If you haven’t been performing at the expected level, think about changes you can make to be more effective. Ask for feedback (yes, more feedback!) so that you can improve. If you are fighting an uphill battle like I was, consider accessing outside resources.
5. Remember that you are in good company. Even famous people have encountered failure (sometimes publicly) and managed to persevere. Consider this:
· Albert Einstein failed his first college entrance exam at Zurich Polytechnic. (Charles Reichblum, Knowledge in a Nutshell)
· Lucille Ball was dismissed from drama school for being too quite and shy. (Paul Stirling Hagerman, It's a Weird World)
· Western Union turned down Alexander Graham Bell’s offer for exclusive rights to his invention known as the telephone. (M. Hirsh Goldberg, The Blunder Book)
· Clint Eastwood was told by a Universal Pictures executive that his future wasn't very promising. (Ed Lucaire, Celebrity Setbacks)
· Michael Jordan was cut from his high-school basketball team as a sophomore. (Bob Greene, in Reader's Digest)
· Charles Schulz was told by his high school's yearbook staff that his cartoons were not acceptable for the annual. (Charles E. Ferrell, in the Clergy Journal)
· Mickey Mantle lost in the category of "Most Athletic" his senior year in high school. (Jim Kreuz, in Baseball Digest)
· Malcolm Forbes, the late editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, did not make the staff of the school newspaper at Princeton University. (The Best of Bits & Pieces)
· Woody Allen flunked motion picture production at New York University and the City College of New York and failed English at NYU. (The Best of Bits & Pieces)
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