Keep Criticism in Mind, But Don’t Take it to Heart

As we work toward our goals and grow as young professionals (YPs), we are bound to receive various forms of criticism from superiors, peers, parents, and friends. Learning from our weaknesses and mistakes, as well as from those who are more experienced than us, are important aspects of the YP development process, and ones we must take with an open mind and thick skin. That said, as often-blind explorers in this YP world, criticisms can take their toll on our budding egos and wavering sense of self. While criticisms can certainly be constructive, they can also be destructive, and so we offer these notable tips to help you keep that confidence intact while dealing with the critics.     

You are not your job
We have met many YPs who require continuous reminding that when receiving critiques regarding work performance, that’s all it’s really about – work. You may be struggling at your job, but that does not mean you are a bad or incompetent person. If you find yourself drowning in criticism, be sure to keep all the other things that you are great at in the forefront of your mind: hobbies, relationships, and other interests. Always remembering our other talents and successes during times of criticism can help sustain confidence and allow us to actually use that feedback to our productive advantage, rather than taking it to heart.

Be aware of the source
Again, listening to older and more experienced friends, family members, colleagues, and superiors is an important part of learning and evolving as both people and professionals. That said, we are not required to take criticism from everyone. When receiving criticisms regarding work or other areas of your life, ask yourself just how important that faultfinder really is to you. Does this person have any direct influence on your present or future success or happiness? Are they someone you care about, respect or trust? Do you believe they know better than you and have your best interest at heart? As YPs, many of us are looked at as works-in-progress, in need of others’ assistance and direction. But within this role we can also become popular targets for constant criticism, and so it’s important that we determine whose words means most to us, and whose do not.

Take what works and leave the rest
In general, the point of receiving criticism is to help us improve. If you feel you are being critiqued for less constructive purposes (such as for another’s personal gain or judgment), feel free to let it roll right off your back. Corrections, suggestions, and analysis of our work or actions that simply bring us down, make us question our abilities in a counterproductive manner, or cause negative effects on our self-esteem and our ability to strive, are not constructive and should therefore be let go. We may be young professionals, but we are still intelligent adults. Although many of us are still in the learning phase, we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Use constructive criticism to your advantage by having an open mind and thick skin, but also learn to detect the other forms of criticism that do not serve us and should simply be dismissed.