It is no secret that criticism can evoke strong emotions from the person receiving it; it can either drive someone to achieve a better outcome, or it could downright ruin someone’s mood for an extended period of time. No matter how upset an individual may feel when faced with criticism, it is inevitable that they will have to handle it at some point in their life. It is important to stay calm and open-minded rather than lashing out at the source of criticism. Whether it is about one’s actions, words, products, or ideas, criticism is an essential key for personal growth. In fact, one of the most damaging things a person can do for themselves and for those around them is to believe that they are somehow above criticism.
Refusing to listen to valid, constructive criticism can produce lackluster results and repeated mistakes on an individual’s part. Additionally, without criticism, an individual may fail to reach all of their potential. Instead, they may choose to stay in their comfort zone, and by extension the individual may have delusions about the quality of what’s being assessed. If the intent behind the criticism is to help instead of to hurt someone, then it can be a means for great improvement for both personal growth and work ethic. On the other hand, destructive criticism should be avoided, since it can have the opposite effect. According to a study done by Robert Baron on the effects that destructive criticism has on undergraduates, he states, “106 undergraduates who received destructive criticism of their work on an initial task set lower goals and reported lower self-efficacy on two additional tasks than did subjects who received constructive criticism or no feedback.” Essentially, receiving destructive or abusive criticism can create a worse work ethic than receiving no criticism at all.
Being able to stay open-minded and not defensive while faced with constructive criticism is a skill that is challenging to develop. Although it is important to ignore criticism that crosses the line into abusiveness, honest feedback that is there to help someone improve should be taken into account seriously and with an open mind. It should be evaluated as either valid or invalid rather than being dismissed entirely; in addition to that, it is important to look at the situation objectively rather than focusing on pride and emotions. Initial biases should also be put to the side when assessing if the criticism is worth listening to, since it can dilute the ability for someone to keep an open mind to possibly making changes to their own viewpoint. Although it may initially be unpleasant to hear, the outcome of listening to constructive criticism could prove to be highly beneficial.
Baron, R. A. (1988). Negative effects of destructive criticism: Impact on conflict, self-efficacy, and task performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 73(2), 199-207.