How to accept critique and guidance in the New Year

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Are you the person who doesn’t believe what your boss says? What do they know, they are a dinosaur? Or thinks you know better and why should you listen? Are you defensive when someone calls you out on a mistake? Do you blame others, systems, the economy the company and the list goes on? Do you feel that others are picking on you and you are not respected?

If this is you, maybe it’s time to look in the New Year mirror and reassess.

We learn the most by opening our mind and listening to others. When people give us critique, call out a mistake, or make suggestions, especially if they are more senior than you, it is important to tap into their experience and learn from it. They are there for a reason. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t question or give your ideas, it means you should look at and benefit from the years of  experience that could add to your career journey.

Years ago when I was working in banking their was a credit manager that everyone was scared of going to because he would rip apart their lending proposal, would find all kinds of errors in the numbers and with the conditioning of the loan. They would talk behind his back and do whatever they could to undermine him.

I couldn’t understand this way of thinking. In my mind this guy was a career saver. When I took my loan to him I would first try to make sure I checked and rechecked everything, and the first time he found a mistake he made me feel two feet tall. I didn’t get mad, I was more embarrassed but thanked him for finding the mistake and said to him that  I will make sure it doesn’t happen again. (In other words thank you for finding a mistake that could have cost the business money and cost me my job).

I built a great working relationship with him and he was hard on me like everyone else, but because I didn’t argue with him every step of the way like the others, he was prepared to train me which was a huge benefit. He also took the time to show me how to condition a loan properly and not lend on high risk and noncommercial proposals.

My view is you should always look at negative feedback as an opportunity to improve. If you are making mistakes, take it with dignity, be embarrassed it happened and not mad at the person who pulled you up. Put a process in place to ensure it never happens again.

My husband and I bought a boat several years ago and were so proud of our boat and thought this is it the best boat ever. Five minutes later this beautiful and bigger boat sailed past us. We didn’t react by making negative comments like what a show off, instead we went Wow what a beautiful boat, good for them. I then looked at my husband and said there will always be a bigger boat.

Follow these 5 tips when being called out or receiving guidance this New Year and benefit from the difference it will make :

  1. Take a breath, think about what they are saying and why
  2. Acknowledge the mistake and apologise  - I don’t know how that happened and am very sorry, I will document the process to make sure it will never happen again.
  3. Understand that they are trying to help, ask questions to understand but not to be confrontational
  4. Check work before submitting as if you were the boss
  5. Remember there is always a bigger boat, don’t be jealous of people who are more successful and have wins – learn from them.

It is important to understand that there are always smarter and more experienced people than you. Celebrate that and seek their knowledge. Take advice and accept critique.  You can’t improve your tennis game if you play with a tennis player who can’t hit the ball over the net. Start 2018 off as the year you learn from others with more experience.


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