constructive criticism

"make the most of yourself,
for that is all there is of you."
~~ralph waldo emerson~~

i've always had a bit of a sensitivity
to receiving criticism.
no one likes to think they're doing something the wrong way,
even constructive criticism which,
as i progressed through my career with the university,
was something that was emphasized as integral
to improving the performance of every employee...
i tend to enter into "performance evaluation" meetings
with my head full of everything i feel i could have done better,
and none of the things i feel i've done well.
i cringe and worry about all the terrible things
my boss will have to say about my performance,
until i am able to register that the stuff we're discussing
usually ends up being predominantly postive
...maybe i am doing a pretty good job,
after all!

i guess i've always been the type of person
who is quite hard on herself
- i have high expectations of the work that i am able to produce,
and i am acutely aware of even the minutest of occasions
when something falls short of my ideal -
and hearing any type of
"here's how you can improve"
"maybe you should stop doing/do more of this"
really gets my hackles up
(like a dog backed into a corner)
and i feel a mixture of sheepishness
(as in, "i know this, i should have already fixed it")
and indignation
(as in, "you can't tell me what to do!")

i'm pondering my tendancy to avoid
constructive criticism,
because tomorrow is my performance evaluation at work.
and although i know i've been doing a good job,
there are always those little things that have happened
that i feel i could have handled better.
but i'm going to take a deep breath,
and go in there with my head held high.
i have examples of work i've done excellently,
and suggestions for things that i will change in the future.
wish me good luck!

how do you handle constructive criticism?


  1. What an open and honest post, Meg! Thank you so much for sharing!

    I am sure you will do just fine during your work evaluation tomorrow, but shall be sending extra smiles your way! :)

    Go in with you head up, as I'm sure you will, and know that you are doing the best you can...I have a feeling you will be recognized for that!

    Remember that any improvement suggestions, if any are pointed out, are just that, ways for improvement, which will better you and your performance, but don't mean anything you are or have done aren't wonderful too! :)

    Liesl :)

    Liesl :)

  2. Oh my goodness, I know how you feel. My evaluation is coming up this month! I worry about it when I think of it, about all the things my boss will have to tell me I need to fix, even though deep down I know I'm a good employee and I just need to relax. Good luck! :)

  3. The sheepish response certainly sounds familiar, and I'm working on keeping up a mantra of "they are trying to help because they care." I also remember that I only give constructive critism to those for whom I can see potential for improvement and greater success. And when all else fails, make a mental note of one positive and keep it with you all day!

  4. Meg, I am the exact same way, especially at work. It's hard to hear criticism, even constructive, because it's scary to think that people might not be 100% happy with you (especially for a people-pleaser perfectionist type like myself and probably many other women). I cope by building my confidence outside of work (exercise, yoga, learning new skills, spending time with positive people, engaging in various hobbies,etc.). This helps me to keep things in perspective and remember that work is just one aspect of my life - it's not who I am. I also regularly remind myself that my self-worth isn't dependent on any single situation or person, but rather, my opinion of myself.

    Thank you for such an honest and thought-provoking post!

  5. oh, not good... i'm terrible at constructive criticism. like analiese said though, i'm a total people pleaser. i'm working on this too! good luck!!

  6. ps. there's a little something for you on my blog today!

  7. Constructively....and with a salt cellar near by. I always consider the source.
    Nice post Meg. Open and genuine, though perhaps you could have... ;)

  8. good luck! i have a hard time with constructive criticism as well. all you can do is put ego aside for a minute and listen up! who knows -- maybe they'll only have compliments for you!

  9. Love your honesty! I'm a huge perfectionist, and hard on myself as well. I do try to take criticism well and just make changes, if needed, to be better. Also take it all with a grain of salt, the only one who know's what's best for you is YOU!

  10. I am exactly like you when it comes to constructive criticism! exactly! reading your post I felt like I could have written those words! unfortunately, I also have the terrible tendency of wanting to cry when I hear criticism. I have often felt tears coming to my eyes and I've had to physically fight the urge to let one. drop. fall. oh my goodness, that just makes it all worse!

    I am totally a perfectionist and highly critical of myself, which is where I think this issue with constructive criticism comes from. and it's always easier to give someone else advice like, "be proud of your work," "hold your head high," etc etc than to actually do it yourself! :) but I really truly hope your performance evaluation went well today because at the end of the day, you DO do a good job, you SHOULD be proud of your work and you DESERVE to hold your head high! :)


  11. oh that ._. im not very good on criticims myself, no matter how "constructive" they are. luckily i have people who never fail to make me smile and make me feel all better and stuff. Im very confident, but when the death blow blows, I loose it ._.

    Im sure your eveluation will be super great!!

  12. I'm not very good with constructive criticism either. I tend to get defensive. I hope the evaluation went well!

  13. I'm taking a communications class right now and this week has been about criticism. Just remember to learn from it. They want you to be the best for the job and so they're trying to help you. :)

  14. As a teacher, my job is all about giving constructive criticism. Because I am sensitive myself about receiving it, I try to be very gentle when giving it. But ultimately I think it's better to speak up and guide someone in the right direction than to stay silent and watch them flounder.


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