Accepting criticism

Matthew Randall, director of York College’s Center for Professional Excellence, gave an excellent lecture on how to react to criticism at ones work or place of study. His power point presentation made quite an impact as well as his guest speaker, YCP student, Ashley. Randall is a talented public speaker and shared a wealth of important information with his audience. It is important for an employee or student to understand what an employer or professor expects from them.

The expectations are as follows: accept personal responsibility for your work, be open to criticism, have competent verbal and written skills, be motivated and think independently. When someone follows these simple guidelines, the chance of criticism is much less likely to occur.

Randall explained his theory of the five biggest sources of criticism by an employer or professor.

1. Not paying attention to direction.

2. Working under pressure. (can lower quality of work)

3. Insufficient training/guidance.

4. Unclear expectations. (not understanding what is expected)

5. Trying to create something new. (no previous example to work from)

Emotions often caused by receiving criticism range from apathy (just not caring anymore), shame (realizing your erred), anger (how dare I get a C when all other professors give me A’s and B’s) and anxiety (so stressed you can’t focus.) A professional will recognize these emotions and take a step back before reacting.

Using the F.I.R.E. model Randall presented in his lecture will keep emotions in check and assist in finding a solution to the errors that led to criticism.

F-Facts of the error (Have a clear understanding of what the mistake was)

I-Interpretations (understand how employer or professor is viewing you due to error. ie: lazy, inept)

R-Reactions of you and your critic (don’t lose your temper, patience or lunch.)

E-Ends (what is the desired outcome your supervisor or teacher is seeking)

After taking account of Randall’s FIRE model, there are five steps to resolving an error and insuring it doesn’t happen again.

1. Take a deep breath and thank the person criticizing you. This sounds like the last thing someone would want to do but accepting criticism is a huge part in learning.

2. Fess up and acknowledge your mistake. This relays you are human and want to learn from errors.

3. Change your way you are working so mistakes don’t happen again. Once you learn what the problem is, don’t continue as before or the errors will return.

4. Rely on your support network. If you will feel better talking to a family member, friend, or spouse to ease the sting of criticism then take advantage of their support.

5. Get back out there. Don’t shrink into the background to avoid the possibility of future criticism. Putting your neck out shows you are motivated to succeed.

In conclusion of Randall’s presentation, accepting criticism can be a challenge but it is also a powerful tool for improvement. He closed with a question to the audience that can be asked so a person will know what is expected of them at work or in class. In the next 30 days we should ask, “If you were me, what would you choose to work on to improve?” This will give an employee or student the answer to what is lacking in their work, before it leads to criticism.


Go ahead...take a swing. I'll duck and listen.

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